Back to Issue Seven.

Year Without Dusting



There’s softness to the photograph’s image
after a year without dusting: my father

in his uniform, the picture hanging in the hall-
way, crooked, a single nail pulling

from the drywall, holding the weight mother
couldn’t. He told her once that after a month

in Viet Nam, warm water from the shower
was enough to make the cocks of the soldiers

hard. Now, spring storm, the sky coming apart
in a thousand places and power knocked

from its lines, my wife warms water on the gas
stove, tests the temperature against her wrist.

She pours pot after pot into the tub, pours
blood-warm water over me.

Brandon Courtney was born and raised in Iowa, and served four years in the United States Navy. His poetry is forthcoming or appears in Best New Poets 2009, The Journal, The Raleigh Review, 32 Poems, and The Los Angeles Review, and has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He recently received an Academy of American Poets Prize, and graduated from the MFA program at Hollins University.