Mt. Nebo, Arkansas, late August
by Brent Fisk
There will come a day when the cough won’t fade,
when the shadow on the lung won’t clear.
Now we’re coming home, clipping off the toll booths
one by one. Biopsy results are for Wednesdays, 9 a.m.
Until then you are purely my father buying breakfast
and time, growing drowsy behind the wheel.
Wake up old man and see how the heat blurs the road ahead.
We were lost soon as we crossed on the ferry.
You crave more coffee, another cigarette, ten more
good years of setting up our camper on a concrete pad,
stepping into flip flops on Mt. Nebo and shuffling off
through the acorns and hickories on the way to the public bath.
The hot showers steam the mirror so you don’t see
how ashen you’ve become. Steady on, wobble home
if you can. The daddy-longlegs are flat against the wall.
The mist is burning off over Dardenelle and we take
the switchbacks one by one. All those drop deads
I gave you years ago—I never thought you’d follow through.
Fish out one more pack of Camels, let the cellophane blacken
in the smoking fire. We have interstate to sleep through,
raccoons to rob us blind. So let’s steal one more week of daylight—
dream of winking owls deep in the spruce,
cardinals rising up the thermal mountain, my hand
on your cool shoulder shaking you awake.
Brent Fisk is a writer from Bowling Green, Kentucky. He has work forthcoming in Minnetonka Review, Autumn Sky Poetry, and Rattle. He tells us that this and the other poem of his that we’ll be publishing in this issue are both over a year old, and kind of fell onto the paper they way they are. Poets get lucky like that from time to time.