Claire “Champagne” Champommier owes $5.20 to her local library. She is a bit new to writing, but she’s having a lot of fun. She has studied writing at Lewis & Clark College, where her professor, Mary Szybist, has encouraged her to keep doing so. Her work has appeared in Splash! from Haunted Waters Press.

Shooting my mom in my afternoon nap

My mom is trying to kill me.
She has two pistols from the 19th century;
the metal decal curls around the barrels.
I’m looking for my mom, but her eyes,
they’re crazy. I don’t think I can get through to her.

She’s widening her stance like a cowboy
she’s holding them cocked, questioning, heads tilted
inwards, in either confusion or discussion –
Should we say hi? They’re asking
Should we explode?

Stop it! I lunge at her, and we struggle
for the pistols. One is thrown offstage
into the outskirts of my dream.
The other I hold in my right hand.

My finger’s not on the trigger! It’s not on the trigger mom! Please
I need her to see the daughter, but
I’m afraid

she might only see me. And I can’t see the mother. So
I scream for her. She reaches for me
and it could’ve been her
and I pull the trigger. And the bullet

stops. It’s wedged
in her hand. Its little head
nuzzles into her open palm. Of course.
A rookie mistake.
The bullet wasn’t fast enough.

Nature documentary

Watching my mother cry was like watching an animal give birth for the first time.
I watched a horse give birth in a nature documentary, and that’s what I thought about.

Because of course she’s cried before, just like how
animals get pregnant too, of course. And I knew this.

It was natural. But there was something disturbing about it. I didn’t expect to see
the tenseness of the pain. It was unfamiliar. I was shocked.

Watching my father make my mother cry is like watching a horse give birth for the first time and understanding, oh, that’s where baby horses come from.

Watching my father make my mother cry is to understand, oh,
so that’s where she got those words from.

Then I wondered where my dad got these words, or if
he was the font of our belief that we were stupid. Later I learned

he wasn’t being original. I wondered how far back could I trace those words. I wondered where they'd end up. I wondered if I’d leave them one day to expire in my genepool

or if I’d pass them on during a sunny afternoon here by the kitchen counter.
I got to thinking that the only way to stop them might be to stop having baby horses.

Watching my mother cry because my father left is like reassuring an animal that’s forgotten it’s also an animal, and that feeling scared doesn’t mean you’re broken. Even animals

get scared. So I walked her through breathing, contractions, removing the placenta,
the blood. It’s natural. It’s natural.

photo: Alison Scarpulla