BY MATTHEW WIMBERLEY
O, the right words come
but I ain’t talkin
Magnolia Electric Company
For my silence I was given a tongue of thorns.
In the town named for hunters
I was an outsider who never fired a gun
and went lightheaded at the sight
of my own blood. When I bought
amphetamines and oxy from Jason
or some other classmate scraping
together a life on minimum wage,
I met them afterhours in the parking lots
of the gated communities
they’d never been allowed to enter
except to keep the lawns green through winter.
I thought the suicides I read about
in the paper changed whenever I said the names,
from ink into the closed wings and curved beaks
of crows I watched each day
beside the arched entryway of a cemetery.
One of the town’s churches
overlooked the deals; a line
of pines removed years ago by the congregation
to build a daycare and an office
used to collect canned goods and lightly worn
garments to distribute up in the hollers
and at the 24-hour clinic.
In my absence not much changes.
Down in the valley you can spend all afternoon
with a two-gallon bucket
picking apples and drinking hot cider
on the hillside orchard, or you can stand
on an iron footbridge and inhale the mist
rising from the base of a dam
and see how across the pond
the water through the January oak
is whiter than snow, colder.
The sun is low. A truck with warped rotors
brakes somewhere along Tamarac,
maybe stopping for a herd of deer—a grouse—
the whistle of metal
is like skin sliding along a bed sheet. The blue jays
head south again—the sky irrevocable.
I know my fate is incomplete.