The boards do not touch at the peak of the spacious sugarhouse sunlight pours though gaps in the wall Steam rises from the evaporator past a single wire that holds two bare light bulbs Two men The older his tan fedora cocked to the side forearms clothed in wool his hands in leather gloves perches on the edge of a sofa covered with a stained canvas tarp The younger stands behind the evaporator his foot resting on an overturned sap bucket his back to a stacks of dozens more A quilted red coat and red wool cap with flaps ward off the chill
I found the fortune teller at the foot of the unnamed mountains to the east Claiming to cast spells and read palms she wanted gold shells for payment but all I had was a worn copy of The Sun Also Rises Along the road I saw a man his oiler’s cap was tilted at a jaunty angle a Purple Water vanity kit rattled in his pocket As I looked for fresh fonts and teenage angst he walked past me into the young sunlight
1999 When I was younger, I would think I don’t learn neat things from you like my friends from their dads. I didn’t learn to hunt, ride a snowmobile, or fix a car. I wondered how you knew about fixing things around the house. How was I going to remember it all? Why didn’t you know how to fix a car, or hunt? How I wished you did. Years later, I don’t like to hunt, ride snowmobiles or fix up cars. I like to build porches, talk about landscaping, how to unclog pipes. You let me to learn from my mistakes, to find my way, offering guidance even when I didn’t listen (I learned my stubbornness from you too). 2021 I have two boys of my own. You’d be eighty-one this year, but you’ve been gone for nine. I miss talking to you. But you’re still teaching me.
One: Inbound Waiting for the 10:30 train on a tiled alcove bench a sticky puddle below my feet A Budweiser can in a brown bag discarded in the corner presumably in resentment for being empty Words within the bricked floor trampled by millions seen by few Inbound Gripping the pole shoulder to shoulder swaying gently the clack and clatter the murmur of voices A child in a silver moon coat learning the stops preoccupied by curiosity Two: After Library Square The child stares past the last row of magazines at the people sitting in far corners A man in a blue poncho naps in front of the gas fireplace his bundle of possessions beside him on the floor A man in a supple leather chair reads a book, more books stacked at his feet his shoulders tense A man with matted hair and beard catches her eye and smiles as the child’s mother hurries her away