By Mr. B.
He stole into the shop one night.
He crept and sleuthed, his footfalls light,
As I adjusted the rear sight
Of my Glock 17.
There was no warning of his entry.
(That dog, what a lousy sentry.)
No lock! It was elementary
To sneak in, sight unseen.
The bench top – crowded, misaligned –
Caught a shadow from behind.
I twisted ‘round. The light outlined
A figure coming near.
Onward came the bold invader,
(His height: 4 feet, maybe greater;
Shorter than a second-grader),
Grinning ear to ear.
“What are you working on?” he said,
Disheveled hair upon his head.
I told him, “Son, get back to bed.
It’s way past your bedtime.”
“I saw your light and couldn’t sleep,
Then snuck out here without a peep.”
His mother must be counting sheep,
Or else she’d know his crime.
“Can I stay up and watch you work?”
If I said no, I’d be a jerk.
I said, “Alright.” And with a smirk,
“Just don’t tell Mom, okay?”
He gazed about the bench and floor:
Rem Oil, gun parts, brass, and more.
“What’s all that stuff?” he did implore,
In such a tender way.
I told him, “These are Daddy’s guns.
I use them for sport, having fun,
Hunting, and our protection, son.
Each gun here has its role.”
He stared with curiosity
At every gun that he could see
“What’s that one called?” he cried with glee.
“That long one, black as coal?”
I guess the time had come at last
For my firstborn to know the past
Of all the guns I had amassed,
And all that they’d been through.
To learn of all their histories;
Of all idiosyncrasies;
Which guns were crafted overseas
And used in World War II.
Which gun I received as a gift;
And which one’s easiest to lift;
The one that shoulders, clean and swift,
For shooting on the wing.
These tales, and more, he had to learn
So that he may, one day, in turn
Own these guns, make powder burn,
And make the rifles sing.
I broke out from my reverie:
“That’s a Model 918T.
It’s made by Marlin, and, you see,
This gun never misses.”
“It was the first that I called mine,
You uncle had one, just as fine.
He was eleven, I was nine,
We got them for Christmas.”
“Grandpa bought them both for us to shoot
At targets, pop cans, rabbits, coots,
Or anything that chose to root
Around the house and farm.”
My son looked at the gun with awe,
“That’s an awesome gift from Grandpa.”
He climbed onto my knee and saw
More of my firearms.
“What’s that one called?” he questioned me.
“This is my 12 gauge Benelli.
When hunting pheasants, doves, and geese
It always brings them down.”
“I bought it when I turned eighteen
For hunting birds near Aberdeen.
I try to keep it dry and clean
So it won’t get rundown.”
“I also have this Savage here
For hunting game like elk or deer
The Vortex scope will let you peer
At objects far away.”
This rifle truly caught his eye.
“Would it be okay if I try
To hold it, like you do, to my
Shoulder?” he requested.
He moved his head behind the glass.
He felt the rifle’s shape, it’s mass;
The buttstock sleeve for extra brass
On which his check was rested.
“I know we’ve covered this before –
You memorized Rules one through four –
But always practice safety or
You’ll end up hurt, or dead.”
“Daddy,” he said, “I’ll be careful.
I’ll treat all guns as if they’re full,
And the trigger I will not pull
‘til I am on target.”
As a gun dad I sure was proud
To hear him say those words aloud.
Those principles are what I vowed
To instill in my son.
I took the rifle from my boy.
“I’m glad you know that they’re not toys.
These guns are made to kill, destroy,
Injure, and hurt, not stun.”
“Please tell me more about that one,”
He pointed at my oldest gun.
“That’s a rifle my Grandpa won,
Now it belongs to me.”
“This gun is from 1905.
It’s the only Enfield that I’ve
Ever shot and I always strive
To keep its history.”
“My Grandad won this at auction.
He used it for sniping foxes
So they wouldn’t raid the boxes
That his chickens used.”
“It shoots this round, the .303,
Which used to make the Kaiser flee.
But this gun’s a retiree,
I won’t see it abused.”
“She’s displayed on the mantelpiece.
I keep her dust-free, oiled, and greased.
Though her value still may increase
I’d sell her to no one.”
My son, with a bewildered stare:
“Even if the price was fair?
If it made you a millionaire,
You wouldn’t sell the gun?”
“This gun belongs to you,” I said
and tousled blonde hair on his head.
“You can have it once I’m dead.
I’m keeping it ‘til then.”
“I will pass all these onto you,
and you’re little sister, too.
They’ll be yours someday. Yes, it’s true,
As long as you are good.”
“This whole thing may seem fantastic:
These firearms are dynastic;
This birthright of steel and plastic,
Aluminum and wood.”
We talked at length into the night.
An interest in guns did ignite.
He sat and listened with delight
To all I had to say.
We snuck back in at one o’clock,
I closed the door and turned the lock,
Took off the holster with the Glock
And put it all away.
I told my boy, “Please be quiet.
If mom wakes up, there’ll be a riot.
If she asks, you must deny it.”
He smiled, and slunk upstairs.
And there he went, along his way,
My flesh and blood, my DNA,
To sleep away cares of the day,
To bed to say his prayers.
I hope he retains what I’ve taught,
That all I’ve said won’t come to naught.
And that maybe he’ll give some thought
To all ideas he’s binged.
Next day, he said to his sister,
(To her mind, just a tongue twister)
In an attempt to enlist her:
“Shall not be infringed.”
My heart was filled with pride and joy
To hear those words come from my boy.
He learned: “For guns to be enjoyed
We must first have our rights.”
I’ll keep teaching him these lessons,
On Ruger, Colt, and Smith & Wesson,
This heritage, this succession
Of lining up the sights.