The truth is, when his heart stopped it was like a cricket going silent
inside a down jacket. In the blue grind of his sinking house trailer,
wheel chocks barely holding in the bristle patch above the river,
time changed into an overpass stuffed with steel wool.
Dressed up in time, the world was like a great wing of doors,
each lubbing the light into church rows. Particular and tall.
And nothing changed. The melon fields still crowded the road
& all the talk at the Sizzler of jobs at the new windmills.
Look around, he said. It’s all paved with fire, water and smoke.
No. Look around. It’s just the spatter of goose shit-size rain
on Breast Tree road. That’s what’s left. Nothing’s changed.
The stillness was stacked beside the fields, like aluminum pipe
after wheel irrigation is done. A rash of cut-over tree farms,
each with a sawdust pile, soon to be lit with a road flare.
The One Bird Road samaritans, the heated pool boys in blue fescue,
the fallen hero double wides where everyone’s heart beats at half mast.
All wrapped in pale pieces of evening.
To a drunk guy hanging sheet rock when the body isn’t there,
to the horses in the lost farm corrals, to the line of pink Porta potties,
it’s all just a dropped signal. One whiff of their mortal decay
and you wouldn’t be able to live with yourself.
Ask a pipefitter or a grave digger what happens
when the three-strand Jesus frees you from sin
in the white gristle church by the fairgrounds.
“OK. What’s in the Full Hot Breakfast?”
he asks the tall-boned preacher woman. “What’s comes out of the coffins?”
In the smelting rain, the answer comes from a row
of red osier dogwoods by the diner:
“A line of traffic cones and miles and miles of hair.”
Under the iron dog antenna, like a groin kick, comes the sound
of the great wing of doors brushing his trailer. His chest is full of stones.
He takes his comb out of his back pocket and slicks back his hair.
He walks to his day job at the Casino. The light comes down in pentacles.
He walks to his swing shift job, spraying foam liners into truck beds.
The light comes down in strings of seed pods. He walks home to the trailer
on the 5% grade, still holding the hill above the river. The light comes down
in 5/4 and 8/4 laminated sheets. Each one ready to fly out of the bed
at a moment’s notice.