567 Readings

Terror of the Back Eighty Acres

The creek backbones the story of that spring,
the spring I made my new brother out of thistle,

twigs and corn-husk twine. My Mud Man crafted
from field grass and a fair bit of grease. If only I

could expand the story of what followed, the Terror
of the Back Eighty Acres who lived on deer scraps

left by timber wolves or black bears and potatoes
saved from my dinner plate. He grew tame

and hunted the dreams of farm kids—every tree scratch
on the window were his nails, every pregnant farm girl

was knocked up with the devil’s seed and spiderbabies.
My mother asked me, Where did you get that stick boy?

and, though we were playing, I’ll make up another place
at the table. This was my mother who said I’m sorry

with casseroles. When they found my real brother
beneath the creek squared by flatrocks and crayfish,

he looked like he was sleeping so they told me he
was sleeping. Mother cooked our kitchen full of casserole.

If I could write another chapter for my brother,
for my Mud Man. If I could keep the story going,

but of course, the townspeople grew restless, grabbed
pitchforks and torches. Of course, it all ended in fire.
Posted 06/01/11
First appeared in Guernica: A Magazine of Art and Politics, 2011
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