Tommy, accidentally shot and killed by the neighbor boy while hunting squirrels
for prep. 1 a — indicating purpose: His father and uncles taught him that hunting was for sport and for fun, but the first time he killed a squirrel sorrow snuck up his pant leg, into his bones, and burrowed in his belly; at that moment he knew men misled and fur might be love. When he couldn't sleep he clambered to his sister's bed for comfort. Afterward and in the wake, his best friend Timmy would come over and just sit in his room, for lack of knowing what else. House for sale. b — indicating the object of (a) desire: His mother liked for him to stay close to the house. 2 being or constituting: Not wanting to be taken for a coward or for too young, he walked into the woods, a brave and big boy, small for his age. 3 indicating enumeration: for one thing, he wrote in a school essay a few weeks earlier that he was no longer afraid of death. And for another, he so loved his mother. 4 a — representing (the thing mentioned): tommy, tom, my sweet my dear my heart my love were short for Thomas—his father's name, too. 5 because of: We can't sleep for the sorrow, for the want, for the fear, for remembering and for not, for the dearth of hope, for the whelm of ache, for the salt and snot dripping down our faces into our mouths when we sleep on our sides, for knowing he must have fallen forward as the shot hit his heart when we lie on our stomachs, for seeing him blown backwards by the bulleted blast when we lie on our backs. 6 with respect to: concerning: for bodies meant-to-love but not meant-to-leave, meant-to-sing but unsung. And for bodies too young, for bodies too lone, for bodies too little too lost and too tombed. 7 b — indicating equality: Caliber for caliber. Parting for such sweet sorrow. Goodnight sweet boy for morrow. 8 duration of time: The sorrow like a slain squirrel that snuck up his pant leg into his bones and burrowed in his belly stayed for too long—or perhaps not long enough. (Because how long should one pay penance for wrest of life?) His mother cradled him in those woods for ever, clinging to the dream that he was still alive even if just for a few moments after she found him there, in the woods, near the house. We visited his grave every minute, every hour, every day, every month, every year for years after he was blown and buried, killed and laid, rotting and forgone into mulch and hush. 9 indicating place: He left his house for the woods. He left his life for his death. He left quiet for quieter. He left air for dirt. He left sky for root. He left bud for rot. He left boundlessness for a box. He left upright for prostrate, plumb for prone. He left us behind, to fend for ourselves.
—not to be confused for its most common homonym, four: they used to be a family of four.
This poem originally appeared in Inverted Syntax.