i won’t lie

At 3 a.m. Dad wants to pick the strawberries. Outside the season
is wrong, the trees a tangle of twigs against a brain-gray sky. I won’t lie:
If we’re going to speak of strawberries, Mom and I would like him to be
calm, like the man at the roadside stand—the one Dad wandered
into that time he left the house on foot. The man at the roadside stand is measured
when he calls to say Dad is there fumbling the fruit. The man is silent
when we arrive. For months he disappears into his fields of blossoms and buzz,
then shows up with punnets of berries, preserves, chewing tobacco, a lifted chin.
At 5 a.m. Dad wants a gun. He says over and over and over and over
how if only he had a pistol he could shoot himself, himself who is no longer
himself but who is standing beside his own road trying to get back. I won’t lie:
If we could, Mom and I would place the pistol, gently as we’d place
a too-ripe plum, into his hand.