Max Zimmer: After You Set Your Head On Fire  

   The Rest Will Follow

The way your father waits for the bus to the slaughter house outside the house each morning with his brown shoes tied

The way your father drowns in the noisy snoring of his daughter’s dreams at night through the thin rock of unpainted wall

The way your father runs across the weeds of the fields in October afraid he will never quite get far enough away from you

The way your father lets the engine of the mower idle while he dumps the catcher of all the presents you have given him

The way your father can taste bark in his blood when he strips the tree in the yard for food in winter with his fingernails

The way your father says he can stare at the sun until his eyes burn black and still catch a sparrow in flight with his teeth

The way your father can eat an apple ignorant of how it terrifies you that he will be dead when you are forty or fifty or sixty

The way your father can sit in a chair and smell like a river of people you will never know but know have held you naked

The way your father touches your thigh with the side of his hand when he shifts into third and your mother tells nobody

The way your father will always pull off the highway if one of two things happens:

The first is every time a turkey vulture asks him for directions to his grandson’s funeral

The other is every time you tell him that you’re carsick again

The first thing never happens

The way your mother knows exactly what you should get when you add two and two and the answer is a banker’s hand

The way your mother hollows out the two fresh halves of a zucchini and fills them with the heads of her daughter’s dolls

The way your mother spends the afternoon in her bra in the chaise beside the stream with your father’s beard in a bottle

The way your mother can walk the edge of the roof in a wind as fast as the warm venom of a rattler racing for your heart

The way your mother uncovers the silver hook of her bridge when her lips pull back off her teeth in an animal’s laughter

The way your mother eats wild berries with the best of them in the dream you love about the house where all women live

The way your mother can reach inside your stomach to grab how you’ve had to swallow the lie about leaving her again

The way your mother cries out when a glass breaks in her grownup hand in the warm buoyant water of the porcelain sink

The way your mother bicycles off down the hill to the store while they talk of snow coming on the radio before tomorrow

The way your mother will always pull off her stockings if one of two things happens:

The first is every time the shadow of a candle passes like the last man through her room

The other is every time you tell her that she’s beautiful again

The other thing never happens

The way you wear your father’s broad shoes and they fit you like the cages of turtleshells when you go running after him

The way you finish the dishes after the blood of your mother’s hand has colored the suds the muddy pink of the sunset

The way you wrap your blazing hand around the neck of this toothless thing you come to learn was your first ejaculation

The way you wade through the flood of the basement to rescue your wife’s last kiss from the trunk where her wedding is

The way you drive through the headlights of a deer at fifty five the night your father accuses you of having molested him

The way you move furniture in the rain in April for rent for the month of May for the place where you eat from your knees

The way you were told that this is what happens to a widow’s dog if it isn’t advertised in the classified ads on Saturday

The way you set your head on fire and the last of the kids to ever have said they hated you starts to whimper in his yard

The way you know you’ve been to this city before but with a different haircut or shirt or place of birth or something else

The way you will always look the way you look tonight if one of two things happens:

The first is every time you play this song where your children are baskets of ripened fruit

The other is every time you play this song again from memory

One or the other thing is always happening



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