By Nathan Slinker
On your twentieth birthday,
we were chopping wood
in the driveway and had gone through two cords when,
as I swung the maul down,
a white finch with a gray head landed on the rings.
There was nothing I could do.
There will be
nothing we can do.
push a scene offstage:
away rolls the table where
the chipped childhood is set in mosaic,
on it the heartwood ashtray, the bruised
pages of a cheap mystery.
Gone too, our mother’s
the footstool that wept in October,
even the wreath of hair flowers
from dead family members—
all into the wings with hardly a breath.
Nathan Slinker has published poems in many literary magazines and journals including Third Coast, Mid-American Review, The Greensboro Review, and Kenyon Review Online. He has been a Fishtrap fellow, a semi-finalist for the “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize and he was a finalist for New River Press’s Many Voices Prize. He owns and manages a nursery and market garden in rural, Eastern Oregon.