January 21, 2018

Francesca Bell

GIRLFRIEND OF LAS VEGAS GUNMAN SAYS HER FINGERPRINTS WOULD LIKELY BE ON AMMO

When it was hard for him
to sleep
she matched her breath to his
then waited
while they arced together
into night’s grave,
consciousness like a shot
pulled beneath
the line of its trajectory
by the force
no one can see. Those stale
Sundays they ended
up at the range with a bag
of guns
lugged in heavy from the car.
The open air
always did them good, and there
was something
intimate in seeing him
take aim.
He always bested everyone,
tore up the place.
After, she did her small part
while they watched
news of other people’s
cataclysms.
Ammunition wedged warm
between them
on the couch, they loaded
the magazines.
Each elegant bullet
was powerless
without its weapon.
Like a woman
with no man to see her.
Sometimes,
she wants him back.
He touched her
the way she touched
those bodies.
Her fingerprints
entering them
on every round,
his love
lodged inside her
like a ghost.

from Poets Respond
January 21, 2018

[download audio]

__________

Francesca Bell: “I wrote this poem in response to news reports this past week about Marilou Danley’s fingerprints being on the ammunition used by Stephen Paddock in the Las Vegas massacre. I feel great empathy for Ms. Danley. When I was young, I had serious relationships with two different gun enthusiasts. These men owned many different guns—including assault rifles—and one I shared a home with for three years. I spent many Sunday afternoons at one gun range or another back then, and I handled all kinds of ammunition and firearms. One boyfriend was a police officer and the other an avid hunter, so the possibility existed that my fingerprints might have been found on a bullet that had ended a life. Additionally, I’ve personally known four individuals who have killed someone. Three of the killings were sanctioned by the state, and one ended in a prison sentence. Though I was appalled and astonished by the enormity of what each man had done, my emotional attachment to them remained. I did not stop loving them. I imagine Marilou Danley still loves Stephen Paddock. I imagine she misses him, despite everything. And I imagine she is haunted to think of where her fingers’ prints have been, of what suffering was inflicted there.” (web)

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