Let’s say you watch your father
heave & sputter
& froth as air has left his lungs
leaving him still & small.
Let’s say despite
your sister’s call home
your wife’s call home
your children calling out for you
you’ve come to a bench
by a boarded-up gas station
to light a smoke
& stare across a shady brook
toward mountains placard in snow.
Let’s say a mother swallow slaps
a passing truck
& flips across the sleeted street
landing alone in the gutter.
That as she fights you scan her eyes
& for a moment
find yourself inside your father’s
where winter light leans upon
a covered piano
powders an empty gun
then moves along the wooden floor
to fill a box of moths.
You place your lips upon
the swallow’s beak to blow.
Watch its pebbled plume bloat
like a black balloon.
& remember how you’d
run the grove without your shoes
to climb the leaning oak
& listen for the egrets’ wings
in search of fields with water.
It was simpler then. Fire.
Snow. Flood. Sky. Hours falling
like flowers. Your mother
in her lavender slip looking
for wild honey
& both your sisters’ parted mouths
longing for the rain.
Header photograph by Courtney Elizabeth Young.