Skin Shield

Although I am to blame
and I do take
unto myself
full responsibility
up to the point
of actually turning myself in
it was an accident

Dark clouds threatened
me without umbrella
nervously checking the sky
casting a trepid eye
at the gathering menace
my glance
by happenstance
alighted on a rooftop
a little jutting triangle of shingle
over a dormer window
where, inexplicable
there was
as if tossed there
in careless flight
a gun
of the hand variety
not a revolver
barely distinguishable
as black and shiny
as the damp glistening
slate on which it laid
enticed, I dropped my book bag
climbed up on the porch rail
got a foothold on a column
and slithered upward
from there
leaning over
clutching a drainpipe
for support
reaching… reaching
fingertips questing
I got it
snagging it by the trigger guard
from all the rain
all was slick
my shoes included
the gutter bowed outward
I slipped
gun on my finger
and crashed into shrubbery
whether by me or a branch
the trigger was pulled and went
more than click
where the firearm went
wasn’t evident
disentangled from the bush
I scooped up my belongings
and walked swiftly
calm on the outside
a gunshot had broken
the silence of morning
but I was white
I was middle-aged
surely, I was good
more than a block away
a horrible shrill cry
“Alberto!” cut me down to bone
already panicked
adrenalin erupted
my alcoholic heart
hammered my ribcage
murdering me for
every beer, every drink
all those 3-pack a day smokes
hemorrhage, stroke, cardiac arrest
took me all simultaneously
in my flight from
grief and agonized discovery
but I made it home
hot with cold sweat, dizzy
in Netflix’s remake
of One Day at a Time
I found comfort
and fortunately for me
Alberto, who took
a nine millimeter bullet to the face
was a Latino teenager
so they all said it was gang related
and white people in the neighborhood
they all figure he had it coming
and their support
more than anything
has kept me from confession


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