I lived in Brixton in central London for twenty years and though I sometimes heard gunshots I never actually saw a gun. But now living in Lanarkshire, Scotland, right in the middle of the country I see lots of guns. Almost all the men seem to have a shotgun. And then my own husband got a shotgun and brought it into the house, and at first I felt very afraid of it and then gradually my whole attitude changed as I describe in this poem.
Bringing a gun into a house
You lay it on the kitchen table,
stretched out like something dead
itself: the grainy polished wood stock
jutting over the edge,
the long metal barrel
casting a grey shadow
on the green-checked cloth.
At first it’s just practice:
dangling on orange string
from trees in the garden.
Then a rabbit shot
clean through the head.
Soon the fridge fills with creatures
that have run and flown.
Your hands reek of gun oil
and entrails. You trample
fur and feathers. There’s a spring
in your step; your eyes gleam
like when sex was fresh.
A gun brings a house alive.
I join in the cooking: jointing
and slicing, stirring and tasting –
excited as if the King of Death
had arrived to feast, stalking
out of winter woods,
his black mouth
sprouting golden crocuses.
from The Book of Blood (Jonathan Cape, 2006), copyright © Vicki Feaver 2006, used by permission of the author and The Random House Group Ltd.