A picnic table in the rain stained with brandy
fumes in clear evanescence. Dent it with a fingernail.
A last name that when uttered, back in town
is met with an awkward silence, a silence that’s a semi
full of empty shoeboxes. At night inside
the poor farm one can smell green beans.
Will they let him keep his powder-blue suit?
It disappears into the rending house of something useful,
for sky down on earth does nothing for the shovel.
An older woman at the historical society brings me
one photograph, 1950. She says, “I think they are beautiful,”
tapping the team of plow horses, but not the man
who drives them. Tractors can be heard in the photo
jamming up the horizon, and I won’t stick myself here.
I’ll even remove myself from the unframed picture of watching,
the doorway where I was born, the copulation back
in the old country beside the narrow-gauge trains
forcing their way across the forests and back to the sea,
past the white house with high ceilings, a careful garden
with bugs that threaten to eat the taut fruit through.
If I’m not told what to put
in those empty shoeboxes, I will make it up
to match these faces’ pallor. Call it a rest home,
father. Success and failure thrown past us
through the cattle car door to the dogs.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 2.