You start up Ole Maude and we take gravel to all your hangouts: the coffee shop,
the iron bridge,
and your favorite, the county dump, where you found the stove Grandmother
cooks supper on today.
Except for that back left eye, the thing works fine. I helped you clean it.
We meet Cecil
at the coffee shop, where he pulls mints from his pocket—he thinks
with everything, and you let me know quick that coffee is good with nothing else
yet behind your back, I’ve been stirring in cream and sugar for years.
I don’t drive a pickup
like you did, but I’ll take the gravel roads to the bridge where you
from the top as a boy, and when I’d ask if I could jump, you’d say no.
I understand now,
but since you died, I’ve leapt several times into that snake-infested water.
took hold of me one time and sent me nearly a mile from the bridge.
But I’m dry now,
and Ole Maude’s waiting. Nothing beats a couple of Swisher Sweets
to give you cancer
and a Chevy Luv to send you to the dump. Plundering’s harder than it looks.
Just because I’ve grown
two feet since the last time we’ve come out here doesn’t mean I can see it any better.
The smell is worse
and the caffeine doesn’t hold as long. So I pop a mint in my mouth and breathe
in the stench anyway,
but I don’t find a stove or anything like it, just junk, piled up and buried,
from someone else’s memory.
Copyright © 2013 Kerry James Evans
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.