After the spring thaw when the damn snow there melted, left
behind brittle etchings in dirt, the time came for me to move,
carry the last hay bale to the barn, scratch the goat, feel her
dry bag sag low. Time came for me to let the dog free,
ease her collar over her scrawny neck, give her room
for one last drink from the dented aluminum bowl. Time to
gather my clothes in the burlap sack. Take my spoon,
half a jug of whiskey, the fine lace tablecloth, white faded to
ivory with just a few holes. Turn the latch, greet the thin
jittering day. Birds, like torn leaves, kick song in the bush.
Kind of like this morning’s a bad draft. Too many
loose vowels and crossed off lines. Too many bitter
moments like off-kilter rhymes. I step in the dust-mottled yard,
notice the black sprawl, piles of wood ashes. Makes me think
of the days when I had a little smoke house out front,
plenty of ham, bacon, tied with twine, and me always with
quick piles of green apple boughs to keep the burn going.
Right now don’t mean much. Right now I think I should have
sold it all in one punch. Not that anyone would come looking.
Too far out. Roads like black scrawl. No electricity. No water
unless you use the pump. Too far gone now. Never had many
visitors, except maybe when I had those chickens. Don’t know
why I sold them. Bright little bunch. Claws that made little
x’s in the ground, hunting bugs. That was their life — laying
you eggs, spending the rest of their time digging for insects,
zig-zagging some crazy path. No sense to it. None.
Comstock Review (fall/winter 2013)