When I finally come down out of the mountains
I am holding hard to an empty whisky tumbler;
A frozen sprain in its side looks like vague lightning
Trapped in a glacier since the days of Genesis.
“You been up there too long,” one of my old neighbors says
As he meets me on the outskirts of town. He’s pulling
A wagon. “All your kin and blood is plumb dead, sonny.”
He says as we walked home. My house is bigger now.
“Your daddy and your ma got tired of waiting for you,”
My neighbor explains. “They had some more kids
After you cleared out that day you had your revelation.”
I thank him before he goes and close the door, walk
Through the cavernous halls of my childhood house,
And after confessing to the wallpaper about time
And the confounding of memories I find the back door.
Out in the yard, the wind blew on for so long
The trees are growing sideways. The dandelions
Must have sensed the futility that ransomed the spring
Because they all strike fey and tragic gestures,
Beseeching the crab grass to commit to a life of poverty.
As I look down at the dusty old whisky tumbler,
The sprain leaps through it and starts growing up
The bloodline on my palm. Before long, it settles
Down the middle of my wrist like it’s fixing for a fight.
There is no whisky in the house this day, and ghosts
Once swept its floors with the wind. Like a precursor,
A train in the next county is coming hard and fast.
Its whistle always sang the strangled anger of the Lord.
The house begins to rattle, and that’s when I notice:
“Yes, Lord, the ghosts are gone alright,” I pray.
The crucifix that hangs on the wall is made of rawhide;
It’s been there since the day my daddy smiled.
“But,” I continue, “at least they were kind enough
To dust my grandma’s teacups before they left.”