Mercy Me 

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50 Mercy Me 
 Once when I was young my uncle took me out to the shooting range near the eastern hills. My cousin and I took turns ripping up a paper target: first with a shotgun, then with a rifle, then a semi-automatic— that big black piece of fire that shot back into our loose shoulders when we handled it. It was fall in the valley and very cold. Fog and gray light blurred the heart, setting the mind towards a thick silence. Yesterday the earth shook so hard it tilted off its own axis. I thought of the way the body kneels before bark but only if the bark resembles the face of God. I thought of the man who claws for my body but only on Wednesdays when the sky breaks open and shakes down a black rain. I learned something about the beautiful blue vein of seduction that runs alongside everything deadly on that late valley morning when I stood beside my uncle with a rifle in the crook of my girl arm. We were sheltered by a family of sycamores. They seemed dead to me with their naked and dark-spotted bending. They weren’t dead. They were waiting. ...