MAXIMUS

Betty Stanton

consequences of explosions by betty stanton

Consequences of Explosions

I. 1965

Fingers thick as sausages tap out a message
on the windowpane. Three short taps, three long,
three short again and then pause for a heartbeat
before beginning again. The S.O.S. so ingrained in 
his blood that he doesn’t recognize it. Distressed, 
he remembers the rapid bracktatat of machine
gun fire and one small plane, not a bomber, flying
too close to the sun. Felled like Icarus, he spent
eight hours in the Cuban sun treading water as his
best friend drowned. Today, the rain threatens his
window, drowns a row of his wife’s prize azaleas.

II. 1995

A Ryder truck packed with fertilizer and diesel
fuel. One hundred and three miles away we imagined
we could see the smoke rising. At eighteen
hundred and fifty degrees his wedding ring
melted from shards of bone and when they cut
his wife open two weeks later and emptied her
stomach they found sixty pills, one for every
birthday she’d celebrated. When they found her
three hundred pills had spilled from bottles
around her body in a tribute to fourteen days
of missing the beat of her own heart.

III. 2005

Your sister wrote out her suicide note carefully
inside your birthday card and then signed the
envelope with familiar script, addressed it
to you, stamped and mailed it out to you just
before the shotgun. She used the buckshot
that belonged to your brother-in-law. I didn’t
know what that was and so you taught me
buckshot is used when you want larger game. Like
your twelve-point buck, its head hanging sloe-eyed
above your fireplace. You say it is proud. Like her
ashes in their little urn, always reminding you.

BETTY STANTON is a writer who lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals and collections and has been included in anthologies from Dos Gatos Press and Picaroon Poetry Press. She received her MFA from The University of Texas at El Paso.

© Maximus Magazine 2022

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