January 28, 2010

Matt DeBenedictis

The Winter We Came Together With Purpose

We built a crossbow. We were two and no metal portrayed its frame; only wood found and cut made our weapon real. To avoid blisters a towel was wrapped in tightness and given just enough encouragement to protect our nine-year-old hands.

"Fuck yes," Joseph delighted as he ran both his hands slowly over our teamwork. As I recall he ran a finger underneath it, just lightly touching it; his finger tapped and twirled to some kind of silent song he found in the woods. His other hand steadied the frame with a loose grip, then a veined grip. All movements rotated in speed and style. Truthfully he stroked it, but my young eyes felt he was just touching it -- maybe looking for any flaws to fix.

The arrow itself did have a metal to it, as wood tips never do any damage. With access to arrowheads below none we scurried to unfinished buildings and homes still in debate. Underneath piles of trash and nestled under wood dust we found the perfect screws. Our decisions made them sharp. We wrestled them into each arrow.

As we built, as we searched, we spoke about a real test being needed. It must be able to cut flesh, one of us would say while the other agreed through rephrasing. We laughed as my arms twisted behind me. The rope married itself to my skin and the tree forced my posture to correction. Joseph wondered if I wanted a blindfold. I declined thinking that would make it worse.

"Why won't your mom let you watch He-Man?" Joseph asked checking out the level sight. “But Predator is okay?” He raised an eyebrow for a stupid question he knew the answer to.

My eyes focused on that screw. I could see the rust and his unmoving steady hold on our weapon. "Aliens could still be in God's fold," I said.

The crossbow failed, my skin merely bruised. A swift fist could have painted the same color. We looked to Schwarzenegger for the next designs. Behind my house a perfect ditch rolled over in a tarp and a casket of leaves, while somewhere we forgot a log waited to throw itself down from a tree once a trigger got tickled.


Matt DeBenedictis does not own a car. He enjoys this about himself. His second chapbook Congratulations! There's No Last Place If Everyone Is Dead was just published. He has work featured in places like Lamination Colony and decomP. He blogs at wordsforguns.com and thinks you're fantastic just the way you are.

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