Karen Solie

Birth of the Rifle

Gunpowder in the water or wine, the willow
charcoal, potassium nitrite crystals emergent
in manure, barrel in the ground and stock in the tree,

and a new mechanism flowers along the Danube,
along the Rhine. Power without accuracy
is a triumph of unreason. He shot

the passenger window out. Thought it was down
and saw a skunk through it. An idea of the good life
for a person must be based on the nature

of that person. From the Pennsylvania colony
through the Cumberland Gap, by the Rockcastle
River and the Dix, Daniel Boone carried

what was named in his honour. It leans on the seat
of the half-ton where the girlfriend sits
on weekends. It leans in a corner by the screen door,

avoiding the federal registry. Pursuant to the protection
of individual rights against the common purpose
of our enemies. Your dinner does not willingly relinquish

its spirit. Whose shape remains, whose qualities
are eliminated. Survival relies on the subordination
of the spirit's non-rational aspects. River Forth, Water

of Leith from whence Patrick Ferguson brought
his breechloading flintlock and was shot through
the elbow during the American Revolution. Eternal rest

by the Catawba in the arms of the Carolinas.
The totality of things will not change. There is nothing
else for it to turn into. The soul a body made

of elements distributed throughout the entire
aggregate, an admixture of heat. By the harbour
where empties the Mill and the West, Eli Whitney

is credited with the interchangeability
of parts. The beauty and the naming of parts. Revealed
in feeling and abilities, ease of motion

and the processes. It rides with us into the fields,
among the seeds in the ground. It goes
to pieces on the kitchen table in copper residue,

solvent, and oil. At the summit of his 30th birthday party,
he fired four rounds into the rental's drywall
to a purpose mysterious to him. If we are good,

it is because we have recognized goodness. If we are
sharpshooters, it's because of Christian Sharps
and his patent. Who moved to Connecticut

to become a trout farmer. Ever looming,
Plato's "civil war in the soul." Without extremes
there are no limits. Sighting scope long as

my forearm. Through it may be seen creatures
single and continuous, presenting harmonious
attributes. Once apprehended, they are real,

and may be taken. We followed the Henry Patent
Repeating Rifle into the west, and the Winchester
1873. Emptied, the bottle has no reason to live.

When we speak, the blow which occurs
inside us produces a flow similar to breath. Prepare
to kill what you eat and vice versa, he said. If not

what good are you. It was our better half. By the North
and South Saskatchewan, by the Red Deer and the Bow.
The soul resides in those constituents whose removal

leads to our death. For Christ's sake will you
put that thing down. One day, he said,
you'll crawl out of your hiding place and thank me.