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welcome to the grenade range

by Anna Weaver

You are about to be handed a dangerous explosive.
You will follow all my commands.

(instruction given by range cadre upon issuing live grenades
to U.S. Army basic trainees)

I can’t tell you what it looks like
because they don’t let you watch
lookers get pushed down for their own good
but you want to feel it so think of thunder
think earthquake
think a live volcano in your hand
of course you’re nervous
it’s one shot one kill
what kind of grip do you have, private?
a death grip, sergeant, a death grip

change your grip and you’re a cooker
the grenade is cooking
counting down
seconds are passing
maybe your last
prepare to throw
to Beruit and Bosnia
where the eyes of babushkas
watch from the pockmarked concrete
of the bunker you’re crouching in
blown to gaping
blown to numb
numb like shock
numb like a rock to your skull
now you’re crying like
a baby wakened by thunder
and you don’t know why
but it’s somewhere in Beruit
because of Beruit
because a crevice in your earthworks
rumbled open after the shockwave
moved through your bones
and now you are the bunker
huddled under a sulfur cloud and sinking
into the dirt
against the wall
hoping the wall will hold

Raised in Oklahoma, Anna Weaver served eight years as a parachute rigger in the U.S. Army Reserve. She writes about big sky, old boyfriends, and occasionally her time in service, which fell between Gulf Wars. Currently living in North Carolina with her two daughters, she has performed at open mic nights in Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Chicago, Atlanta, Nashville, and Savannah.

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