You gave me a ride when I was lost 

in Wyoming. Took me to your home. 

Showed me your gun collection 

you had to go shoulder-deep through 

the clothes in the closet to reach. 

They were old and unloaded, you told me, 

and you didn’t shoot them anymore, 

just oiled them and kept them perfectly 

clean. I was careful not to flinch 

as I watched the double-barrel raise 

and train on my face. The tooth hole 

you flashed in the grin after. 

The spasm in your hands as you swung 

the gun and pointed it at yourself 

to show evenness. You told me 

about doing five years for murder, 

asked if I would’ve done anything 

different, finding a grown man 

raping my six-year-old niece. 

I wouldn’t change it, you said. 

I wouldn’t take it back. You patted 

your heart with your hand. 

Family is family, you whispered, 

as you brought me clean sheets for my bed. 

Reprinted from The Low Passions by Anders Carlson-Wee. Copyright (c) 2019 by Anders Carlson-Wee. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Anders Carlson-Wee

Anders Carlson-Wee is the author of THE LOW PASSIONS (W.W. Norton, 2019), a New York Public Library Book Group Selection, and DYNAMITE (Bull City Press, 2015), winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Prize. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, BuzzFeed, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Sun, New England Review, The Southern Review, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and many other publications. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Poets & Writers, Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, he is the winner of the 2017 Poetry International Prize. His work has been translated into Chinese. Anders holds an MFA from Vanderbilt University and is represented by Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents.

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