Jess Williard

by Jess Williard

And this shaft of barn door light, the dirt and rock strip
between our blue house and the matted lawn of someone else’s,

a tired web of orange-powdered wire in between, and this breath of upset dust, and my brother,
gravel spraying from his heels, rocks clinging

to his wake like so many hovering dust motes. We’re racing. But regardless of who’s always been the faster one,

and regardless of where, if at all, this stratifies us, and on what list, he’s not waiting for me on this one. It’s only for me that this exists in stasis—

I’m so far behind that I’m pumping now for the privilege of catching some of the dust he kicks back

between the cracks of my teeth
and cursing when I blow soot and blood clots onto my pillowcase in the morning.

Or, if I’m lucky, clip a rock he’s sent flying
on one of my canines and tongue a silver tooth,

one like the one Jordy wears at football practices and takes out when he’s on dates with nice girls.
This is all completely still for me and I can breathe in it.

And this alphabetical anchor of the track team,
left to race alone each week at the end of each meet,

and each time I make a new still world, whether it’s gravel levitating at his back or scraps of chewed tire.

And in each I’m working
to breath in debris, digging in my toes to have his wreckage inhabit me.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 3.

Jess WilliardJess Williard’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Nashville Review, East Jasmine Review, WhiskeyPaper and Oxford Poetry. He is from Wisconsin.

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