Mom folds the newspaper
and says, “Stay for dinner after you fix Daddy’s chair.”
I say, “In town, they call dinner lunch.” To
which she says, “Cows chew and call it moo.”
“I know, Mom. Butchered rabbits don’t split hairs.”
I catch down a coffee can, labeled 3-in.
Woodscrews, from a shelf of cans. It yields a hand
full of quarter-inch nuts. And a single screw. “That’s sin,”
Dad would have said if he weren’t buried in the land.
Proof of his lifetime’s coffee-drinking lines
the shelves, misnamed. A tipped oilquart has long since coated
the workbench, swallowing dust. Thumb-runes, mice-signs
scribed in viscous mud. One drawer he denoted
Catch All holds: flats—but no Phillips—worn round
having been jammed in plows, broken pliers, seed
drill gears, boxed sickleteeth, a grinderwheel ground—
having showered sparks against a weldbead—
and two loose screws of various lengths makes
three in hand. After the chair’s repair, Mom sits
where he sat, and looks at her son the priest.
“It creaks,” she says, “but at least it doesn’t break.”
“Father Son,” she continues. “Say grace.” Grace:
(Our Father who art—)
Or grace: a dancer’s ballon; or a turned cheek;
(be thy name—) or a dry brow despite a skipping heart.
Grace catches all. (on earth as—) Coffee steeped
thrice has more flavor. I might call grace Coyote:
the word grown flesh to scavenge among us,
as coyotes and truth. (Give this day to us,
our daily—) We have all received, coyote
upon coyote. God pondered the glory
of man; our decanters brimming at steam.
God was sorry that he’d filled us yet kept pouring,
watching our coffee cans displace name
with names for every living creature.
So. God sent us all a band of coyotes,
yipping east and west in the starred dark night.
Our hearts, like rabbits in turn-rows of ribs, skipped beat.
We slept uneasily.
Come dawn we stirred the fire, fried cakes of pone
in bacon fat, brewed coffee, said Coyote
(Forgive us our trespasses—)
And found holes in our chests. Coffee poured from our throats.
An empty set of ribs where coyotes broke through the bones
(For thine is the power, the glory, and the creaking throne.)
Cover image by Philip Swinburn.