30 July 2006 | Vol. 6, No. 2

Two Halves: Elegy for One Summer's Dawn

Bellefontaine: a town on the way to somewhere else, a place

where you run out of gas, stop to make love on a picnic table

somewhere by the wheat field—when, toward magic hour, the boy

already loaded the gun, the smell of bacon wafting outside

his grandparents house, where he went to make their deaths real.

The news always first: yellow tape stretched over dirt roads,

clean white houses, the scarred fields and blood spackling the earth.

Now the shouldered camera, microphone shoved toward the mouth

of the sheriff: he can't deal with this, but gives them what

he knows: the tombs of two connected houses, six dead bodies,

no roses stuck between their teeth. Only silence through the fields

that morning, soybeans slowly curling to ash, faint pops

of gunshots and confusion, with no note, no explanation, the day

before the boy's graduation. There's too much to figure out now: divorce

and reflux, scorned relatives within walking distance, feigned

forward planning before the battles with lawyers, splitting up

the land. Just the dog galloped through the neighboring field

that morning, the four of us parked in a gas station in a town

we didn't recognize, near waking or sleeping, the oil on our faces

we couldn't rub off or in, and the girl I knew in the backseat

only hours before we silently cast just once and never again

as the others stood inside for fat and sugar—bloodshot and reeling—

to tell themselves we're empty, will be well again. And I remember

both of us loving others, never having before what we decided on then:

silent consent, ten minutes, maybe less, the time for the gun

aimed at their bodies, the deed carried out and no turning back.

About the author:

Keith Montesano's first book, Ghost Lights, a finalist for the 2008 Orphic Prize, will be published by Dream Horse Press in 2010. Other poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden's Ferry Review, American Literary Review, Third Coast, Ninth Letter, Crab Orchard Review, Another Chicago Magazine, River Styx, Hunger Mountain, and elsewhere. He is currently a PhD Candidate in English at Binghamton University.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Keith Montesano at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 6, No. 2, where "Two Halves: Elegy for One Summer's Dawn" ran on July 30, 2006. List other work with these same labels: poetry, elegy, editors' select.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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