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1 poem
by Tim Carter

Tim Carter is a poet, educator, and baker living in Syracuse, NY. Remains (2020) won the 2019 Book Prize from BOAAT Press. Tim graduated from the Syracuse University MFA program in 2018 and teaches in the community. Read more of his poems at www.thcarter.info

from The Pigs

Poking a dead thing with a stick. Waiting for the bus to arrive. Wednesday. A dirty pink rag, a tiny dry nose. How old were you when you learned you didn’t deserve the rest of your life? Black trash bags by the massive lilac bush. Sight is the softest form of touch. Dew on the hood of the car now gone. Wet leaves in the street, clenched teeth, caged anger. We emerge on the other side of adolescence pretty much the same, give or take an illness, a scar, a car accident. What was just earlier a squirrel, its neck broke by a bike tire. Why doesn’t joy ache? Why does it not throb for years as pain does deep in your right thigh where you are pressing your pencil? She died, you didn’t. What else was there to say or do. School beckons. Scribbling in your book in the kitchen in the morning, looking for an explanation. What matters most is least real. A strand of her hair caught in jewelry. Years later, bits of her laughter in yours. This calm cool soothing morning air, the distant sounds of sirens, arias of teenage pain whistling through you like a bitter wind. You could be forgiven for thinking that the happiness you deserved was merely hiding in the future, making a space for you, setting a trap. Time is not a thing which can be kind. Thinking is like holding a bit of raw meat in your hand. How she used to wash you in the kitchen sink. How your father would throw you over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. What was, was good. But there must be another life beneath this life. Endurable, infinite, spherical, smooth. Some aloof goodness inside every cell, keeping note of the hurt, staying unblemished by the world’s churning. She died, you didn’t. How easily it could have gone. Change is often confused with decay. Where does the self end, where does it begin? A broken window, your gashed wrist, an accident. Her running in with a damp rag, kneeling down. We hope the past up. We stand on the corner waiting for it to arrive. Identity is a cacophony. A man rides by on a bike holding a dead bird by the wing, shouting something you can’t hear. A neighbor sweeps yellow leaves from her front steps. A dull blue when the bus finally comes. Elsewhere, spring arrives at thirty miles an hour.