coup de grâce

NaPoWriMo 2022 – April 14

Today’s challenge is a fun one: write a poem that takes the form of the opening scene of the movie of your life. Does it open with a car chase? A musical number? A long scene panning across a verdant plain? You’re the director (and also the producer, the actors, the set designer, the cinematographer, and the lowly assistant that buys doughnuts for the crew) – so it’s all up to you!


camera moves forward
on snowy sidewalk
just ahead of our feet

maybe the audience can see the toes
of our shoes
at the bottom of the frame
as we walk toward the unknown.

(defer to cinematographer)

“Yeah, shoe toes. For sure”

Toes it is.

Walking into the unknown.

So
Unknown.

Grandpa
Grandma
Mom
My 3 year old brother
and Me

The audience hasn’t seen us yet.
As it should be.

The SFX guys recreate
the shuffle scuff straggle
of shoes on snow-slick concrete.

Five sets of sad, confused, scared, feet.

Angry feet.

But mostly sad.

[Pan up slowly to
A decrepit, green duplex.]

One of those not meant to be
Two Homes
But a House crudely, awkwardly,

Split in Two

Where no one will ever
have two hot baths
at the same time.

And no one will
ever
call it
“home”.

The behemoth diesel
moving van
rumbles behind us

Unloaded
But still half full…

with Our Stuff
Going Someplace Else.

The door creaks open.

Still no dialogue –
Words are unnecessary.

There will only be
One.
Line.

From One Character.

The coup de grâce.

[Camera pulls back to reveal the odd
quintet on a porch
badly in need of paint]

[Family enters]

I don’t remember the order.
Probably pushing the kids in first
Makes for the best cinema.

[POV – my eyes scan the room]

Holy
Shit

Stacks of moving boxes
Furniture placed haphazardly
The “living” room lit only by gray light
Reflected off snow
through the dusty window panes

Holy
Shit

[Some time passes…
a good director will know what to do…
communicate silent confusion,
fear,
disbelief.]

My grandparents prepare to leave.

Grandpa in his suit jacket and overcoat.
Seems over-dressed for the occasion,
Whatever the occasion is.

[POV – Me – looking up at Grandpa
as he
walks
over
to
me

On his way

out]

He gets down so his eyes are level with mine.
He takes his finger and puts it to my chest.

“You are the man of the house now”

And the child inside of my five-year-old body

Dies.


coup de grâce
/ˌko͞o də ˈɡräs/
noun

  1. a final blow or shot given to kill a wounded person or animal.”he administered the coup de grâce with a knife”

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