Today's poem is by John Gallaher

In a Landscape: XLI

If only you could burn memories in a little pile
and bring whiskey and marshmallows. It would be
nice. And it's the basis for a lot of stories and
songs. One time, in Athens, Ohio, we all went out
to what we called "The Bish," which was a house
where several guys lived. It had some woods and a lot of
empty space. It was late, we had a fire going, where Eric
had decided to burn some books, and maybe some
of his papers from classes. I think there was
some desire to ceremoniously burn a large dictionary,
as well. One of those 1950 editions of Merriam Webster
that seem to be everywhere, with guitars and alcohol.
And then James came out with his trumpet.

Things get confused after that, we say. A couple months ago
things got confused when my mother-in-law was walking
with two of her dogs as one of them, the larger one (a Springer),
decided to kill the smaller one (a Jack Russell). I thought
I could just reach into the Springer's mouth and make her drop
the Jack Russell. Turns out, it doesn't work that way
when a dog decides to kill another dog. We got the two apart,
and the Jack Russell lived. But I've also got this scar now
on my right middle finger, and I've lost most of my nail.
The bite was deep. The finger was numb for several weeks.

We tell stories constantly; usually for no reason
other than to say we've all lived and we're
still here, which is why I have such a difficult time
with them. We're not always still here. My uncle
rolled a tractor over on himself while mowing
a hillside, and was impaled on the gear shift. It was
on his land. A place he'd been mowing
for years. And when the story is over, we'll start
telling it again. It will be no different, the way
my mother tells it every few minutes, in what's
becoming more and more her eternal present,
unaware that she's just told it, because it's
comforting to be in a story, as all stories
are autobiography in a landscape, and the landscape
goes on all night, dotted with little fires.

Copyright © 2012 John Gallaher All rights reserved
from Pleiades
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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