Finally, we sleep well, where the walls lean
with a drunk’s articulation. We wake
to homemade apple pies and hot cocoa.
We talk through a day of Rummy and three
chiming clocks, while Grandma zips through the garden
like a dirt dauber, picking tomatoes for lunch.
Last month she slid under the house
to repair the plumbing, and after fitting a pipe,
then scrapping with a copperhead: wrench
in one hand, pliers in the other, she
changed out her ‘98 Mercury’s alternator.
Same tools. Same day. I can hear the ladies’
auxiliary now: Whatever happened
to Chesteen McCollum? Well, I heard she
crawled under the house and it was so cool
in the shade, she decided to stay. Things change.
There’s a dime in my old piggy bank,
the fireplace burns gas, and, behind the door,
two porcelain cats play peek-a-boo.
They stare into a glassy-eyed oblivion,
while I scarf down a bowl of red beans and rice,
but I’m filled beyond my unbuckled belt,
when I snore beneath the wagon wheel
and dream among lazy tête-à-têtes and
the shuffling of cards. I’m a birdie
flying over a net, weightless with a red nose,
the lawn a cluster of yellow clumps
stitched with pine straw and littered with ant beds.
The ceiling fan hums like a cherry tree
losing blossoms, and I can almost feel
the clocks slowing down. In the dream I bolt
through doors, looking for a brass pillar
to stake my future. I’m like an oilman
discovering Texas, but too soon, it ends,
and I wake to a house with drawn curtains,
where light pours through windows like well water
from a spigot in spring. Like pickles
suspended in a giant jar of vinegar,
the room comes into view, each person
bobbing in and out of consciousness,
like subway cars tunneling from stop
to stop, the doors opening after a Ding!
and each of us, like people in other towns,
mosey for a day, and we are thankful
to leave like dust bunnies on loops of air.
Kerry James Evans is the author of Bangalore (Copper Canyon).
Photo by Selena N. B. H.