Peacemaker by Bobby Steve Baker

the scrub nurse gives an overly aggressive snap
release of my surgical gloves apparently unhappy
I have chosen to add to repair of facial fractures
addressing the bump just behind the patient’s hairline

where a thoughtless brush of a wisp back from her face
would spark a cascade of suicidal memories
I was about to undertake psychotherapy
with a scalpel and a large rat’s-toothed clamp

her third pregnancy was hard
premi twins─ strange little animals always sucking or squealing
considering a Beretta 22 and a Smith and Wesson 38 Special
a tormented woman with a gun is not making a gesture
she chose the 38─ a vision of peace down that black-eyed barrel

head tilted back- gun under her chin- she pulled the trigger
awakened two days later aware she had failed at even dying
ballistics and anatomy contrived against her

she pointed the gun straight up/ head back
the bullet licked the tongue in her throat squeezed clean
between the frontal lobes and stopped─ enough velocity
and mass to enter and nearly exit the skull
a 22 would have ricocheted off the inner table of bone at the apex
shredding brain and blood vessels as it bounced and tumbled─ death

I make a crescent incision beveled with the direction of hair growth
the scrub nurse- growled I was putting everyone at malpractice risk
no comment on possible death of a human being

the large sagittal vein runs the length of the skull but stops─
as per the venogram─ behind the point of the protruding lead
the scalpel ground metal on metal the mushroom cloud appeared
I grasped the lead with the rat’s-toothed Kochers
Einstein telling me
God does not play dice with the universe; who do you think you are?

the slug eased out─ no blood─ everybody took a breath
in recovery she kissed me smack bang on the mouth
her usually derisive husband smiled
I had the bullet in my pocket
no one asked for it