Gathering Firewood on Tinpan
I bundle them against my chest, not sure
if they’re dry enough. Gauging how long
they’ll keep me warm by the thickness.
I step around carefully, looking for
the deadest, searching the low places
for something small and old that will catch.
I pick up the dander loosened
as my father folds his hands, lowers his head.
The rolling thunder on the surface of a nail.
I pick up the cross that seesaws his chest
with each step. The day I lost my faith.
The night my dog ran away and came back sick.
The battery-pump of her final breath.
Still wondering if she left alone,
or if my father walked her out of this world.
Still wondering what he used for a leash.
I go further into the trees and find
more fuel. My friends faded on oxy
and percocet. My cousin Josh
buried young in the floodplain.
My brother and the ways I burden him.
Living it over and over each night.
My father walking into every dream.
My fire not bright enough to reveal anything.
Not even his face. Not even the leash.
Reprinted from The Low Passions by Anders Carlson-Wee. Copyright (c) 2019 by Anders Carlson-Wee. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.