“It Happened at Southbrook”

After the divorce, I move the kids and myself
into a government subsidized apartment complex.

I like it because it’s affordable and clean,
around the corner from the junior high, minutes

from work. Management labels it section
eleven, though neighbors aren’t fooled

and voice their protests against the project’s assault against their affluence,
decry the spike in crime predicted in headlines of local newspapers,

and maybe they were right. Maybe if the apartments had
not been built the man who lived a few doors down from us

would not have been there to shoot his rifle into the air
after a disagreement with his wife or would the discharged bullet,

which penetrated the wall of the second-story apartment across from ours,
have found an unintended home in the skull of the thirteen-year-old girl

studying there on the sofa. Her mother, sensing strangeness
in the air, would not have turned from dishing up casserole

to see her child convulse into the couch, or watch as the dark stain of blood
radiated onto the cushions behind her head. None of us would have heard

the sharp crack or would have had to try and explain
how we thought it was a firecracker or neighborhood kids shooting cans

in the empty field nearby, nor would we have peered through mini-blinds
as maintenance men dragged the bloodied sofa downs the stairs

to prop vertically beside the army-green dumpster bin.