Between the Leaves and Fence

 

One grey windrow set away

from a dead tree where I buried

the lock, the rusted key

 

which who knows if it still fits.

Written on a paper the address

of your other son—the one

 

you never told anyone of.

Far away in a shit-hole Florida

town, he sits not knowing that you’re

 

now dead. I gather the branches

and stack them in rows, the snow

seeps into the sides of my boot.

 

The jacket with the broken

zipper, lets in the wind.

One photo shows you in Korea, hung-

 

over smiling with a blackened eye. A picture

of your mother whom I’ve met twice.

The final time she didn’t recognize me,

 

emaciated in the nursing home, 60 lbs.

and delirious, tears roll down your eyes.

I wonder yet I know the answer.

 

You never called him or went to visit,

but you sent money. I can imagine you driving

seventeen hours south on I-75, parking out-

 

side the tiny apartment and watching,

waiting for a glimpse before slowly

driving away. A gun-metal grey box, old

 

newspaper clippings I care not to read.

I can see my mother’s shadow in cigarette

smoke by the curtain. Head down, not saying

 

a word. I refuse to wear a hat in winter,

or gloves. I don’t care if my boots are in tatters

if my feet grow wet and my knuckles crack

 

open. I can concentrate hard enough and think

of some place warm, and in the darkest

coldest night will away the frost. The heat

 

radiates from my inside unknown like a tiny

apartment in the south, where a man sits

sentry with his eyes closed.         

       Charles Kell

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