Drunken laughter escapes
Behind the fence woven
With honeysuckle, up to where
I stand. Daddy’s running-buddy,
Carson, is beside him. In the time
It takes to turn & watch a woman
Tiptoe & pull a sheer blouse off
The clothesline, to see her sun-lit
Dress ride up peasant legs
Like the last image of mercy, three
Are drinking from the Mason jar.

That’s the oak we planted
The day before I left town,
As if father & son
Needed staking down to earth.
If anything could now plumb
Distance, that tree comes close,
Recounting lost friends
As they turn into mist.

The woman stands in a kitchen
Folding a man’s trousers—
Her chin tucked to hold
The cuffs straight.
I’m lonely as those storytellers
In my father’s backyard
I shall join soon. Alone
As they are, tilting back heads
To let the burning ease down.
The names of women melt
In their mouths like hot mints,
As if we didn’t know Old Man Pagget’s
Stoopdown is doctored with
Slivers of Red Devil Lye.

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