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Old 02-05-2018, 11:49 AM
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"Kablooey is the Sound You'll Hear" by Debra Marquat

Kablooey is the Sound You'll Hear



then plaster falling and the billow of gypsum

after your sister blows a hole in the ceiling

of your brother’s bedroom with the shotgun

he left loaded and resting on his dresser.



It’s Saturday, and the men are in the fields.

You and your sister are cleaning house

with your mother. Maybe your sister hates

cleaning that much, or maybe she’s just that



thorough, but somehow she has lifted the gun

to dust it or dust under it (you are busy mopping

the stairs) and from the top of the landing

where you stand, you turn toward the sound



to see your sister cradling the smoking gun

in her surprised arms, like a beauty queen

clutching a bouquet of long-stemmed roses

after being pronounced the official winner.



Then the smell of burnt gunpowder

reaches you, dirty orange and sulfurous,

like spent fireworks, and through the veil

of smoke you see the hole smoldering



in the ceiling, the drywall blown clean

through insulation to the naked joists,

a halo of perforations around the hole

just above her head, that dark constellation



where the buckshot spread. The look

on your sister’s face is pure shitfaced shock,

you’d like to stop and memorize it for later

family stories, but now you must focus



on the face of your mother, frozen there

downstairs at the base of the steps

where she has rushed from vacuuming

or waxing, her frantic eyes searching



your face for some clue about the extent

of the catastrophe. But it’s like that heavy

quicksand dream where you can’t move

or speak, so your mother scrambles up



the stairs on all fours, past you, to the room

where your sister has just found her voice,

already screaming—it just went off!

it just went off! —as if a shotgun

left to rest on safety would rise

and fire itself. All this will be hashed

and re-hashed around the dinner table,

but what stays with you all these years later,



what you cannot forget, is that moment

when your mother waited at the bottom

of the steps for a word from you, one word,

and all you could offer her was silence.
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