An Elegy for an Old Man
and His Sidearm


Now plated in gold,
my grandfather’s slick .38
service pistol hangs on the wall
with the rest of his black
and blue memories of the LAPD.
This one cased in mahogany,
veiled with a glass pall
that he cleaned once
a week

I asked if he ever used it.
He said only once, back when it
was standard steel, back when
it was only ever holstered, back
when it was just another part
of the uniform.

Said it was something
like hunting. After you squeeze
the trigger, you’re left
clenching that cold metal
in your hand as it exhales
hot smoke from its mouth,
the haunting ring
of the gun’s crack
in your ears, like God smacking
together two sequoias
as if they were sticks,
and the rustle of creatures
threading through the thicket
seeking refuge
from that thunder.

I asked why he kept it up
there on the wall.
He said, “there’s some things we
can’t let go of, mijo,
some things we can’t forget,
some people we can’t
contain in a box and bury.”