I should’ve left Bruce, cold and rigid as he was—

impossible to think he cared about us—

but all of them—my parents, Reverend Paulson—

said to think about Jacky, our son.

Try to make it work, they said.


Jacky was 12, a sweet, thoughtful boy.

He spent his time with his dog, a mongrel we got

when Jacky was five.

He cares too much about that dog, my husband said.

The dog did something wrong, like scratch

at new paint on the door, as dogs will do.


Be a man, my husband said, then sent the boy outside

with the dog and his gun, a pistol that Jacky

used to beg for a lesson in handling.

The look in Bruce’s eyes stopped me

saying anything.


I didn’t breathe from when the door slammed shut.

We heard a shot and I started to shake. Then the dog

was at the door, yelping. I can hear that yelping now.

He led us to Jacky, laying under the big maple.

I picked the gun up and shot my husband.


The neighbors stopped me before I could shoot myself.

I was 10 years in the women’s reformatory—

in the prison of my thoughts every day.




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