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CHRISTINE POREBA | Wanting to Know Why

when my son looks up at the beautiful clouds we name anything we want he says he sees a gun then asks why I don’t reply

because everything he builds these days has a handle and a trigger and I am tired of being the bad guy of there being a bad guy I try to explain the limits of the term as we bend over his weapons made of plastic brick

the experts say it’s normal for boys of four to be this way for boys who can only sometimes reach the counter for a glass of water to want a gun to want a sword to want to be strong and big

don’t criticize they say they are their play but wait wait until they tire of their games their sameness of sky becoming battlefield they are figuring out the men they might become

because I’m tired of waiting and beginning to see we’re never going back to the days before when he’d pretend to be or think he was I think he thought he was an astronaut and climb into his cardboard rocket his cape a spacesuit he was going to ask the moon why it wasn’t coming out of its house

he was going wherever he wanted and wherever he was going he was going to be alright there was no need for weapons

the soldier who didn’t know where he was going who stepped off his base in Afghanistan was they say like an astronaut taking off his helmet in space

because after the baby bluebird was born in our yard we waited for him to fly but we’d put the bird house on a fence within reach of a cat without thinking

because last night I dreamt my murdered friend and I were swimming under clouds

the sky between the clouds was so blue I didn’t want to remind her in the dream that she was dead the water was a threshold for our shadows we were weightless

because when I woke I wet the ink in her inscription of Poem Without a Hero which she gave me for my twenty-first birthday and watched her name still able to be moved

Christine Poreba’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Subtropics, The Southern Review, and The Sun Magazine, and various anthologies. Her book, Rough Knowledge, was awarded the Philip Levine Prize. A native New Yorker, she now lives in Tallahassee, Florida with her husband and son.

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