The other side of the family…
I have never seen a picture of him, young,
but our family has a face, a male one,
shared by uncles, thatched with red or black hair.
A face that grows handsome and narrow,
led by the nose, before the beer (or other poison)
rots the teeth and misery applies its blunt hatchet,
seeking the blood.
His hair was probably dark and curly,
but I picture it sleek, scraped in furrows from the brow
and plastered with oils the family could never have afforded,
lodged as they were in half a garage.
I know for a fact that he set out every morning
dressed as fine as his wife could make him,
shouldering the burden of his coffin-like work case
he toted each morning to Boston,
seeking a bit of fine cabinet to force his will upon.
It is always the artists who suffer
I have seen this, at least, felt the fleshy weight
of the yellow-pine handle.
I lifted it six inches from the cluttered floor
of my youngest uncles attic. Stood hunched
above a broken mirror, shattered
by the careless weight of the box
when my uncle dropped it.
I was glad it had not landed on Dave’s other heirloom,
the liberated Japanese gun.
My family is careless.
We leave everything loaded.
Wood-handled tools shifted, the sound of lost bones,
of children, unmourned and unburied.
I picture him moving, black and stooped as a vulture,
across scared train tracks, a blasted field of snow.