Skip to content


Tina and her gypsy women roll in
with their wagon, storm the garage in their boots, shorts,
and bleached hair. I let them take everything, cheaply
—illegally—I know it when she says
don’t worry about the paint cans, she has this pit
behind her house, and the other things
she can burn. It’s the fires of hell, dying birds,
poisoned wells. I also regret the wood, one perfectly clear
eighty-year-old four-by-six, some original
cedar siding, and other straight pieces, but they’re laughing and
smoking and things are flying
out of the garage, and Tina’s in the wagon like God Almighty, retying
her red bandana, arranging the past
into a party,

and then the wind blows through
the emptiness, the scent of dryness,
July and its bad habits, and I am surer than usual that I will die,
that my soul is exactly the same room it was before
it collected the skin and bones, that it will be back
to that eventually. I get up off the bank, wipe my hands
on my jeans, kind of a prayer for forgiveness, trying for a poverty
of spirit, the right kind you choose
item by item, not letting it get out of hand
like nuclear fission.

______Old paint with dangerous, leachable
lead, now I’ve said it, that’s the critique
of me I was looking for. And then I pick mint and chew a few
leaves, rough and sharp, a taste that’s more
than half smell, and then I sweep out dry leaves and swing the doors
shut, spin the combination lock, which is 12-0-45, not
that it matters, unless I need to check
later, to see how much nothing there is
in there, to work with.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

If you like Image, you’ll love ImageUpdate.

Subscribe to our free newsletter here:

Pin It on Pinterest