Some days the mystery is familiar,
every shade pulled down,
not sun-wrapped or fire-thrown, that
tin house I walked by, for instance,
running as a kid runs, taking a stick
to its corrugated, sea-sick surface,
the blip blip blip, thinking so little
of the old man inside who
peed in a can and threw it out back.
My brother and I, that bit
of cruelty. Do it over. Slow this down.
It wasn’t mystery
but childhood which never blinks
even if the sun’s too hot, even now
when I think of him hearing us,
two brats laughing, about to pick up
those ancient weapons, broken off
branches thick enough
to run the length of that house
straight up from the street,
his hearing us say is he in there?
If we ever thought to say that. He stood
quiet, not moving, a gradual
thickening, only a shape in a window cut
out of tin or a darkness
at the glassed-in door. He was waiting,
I think now, for it to be over, this
small injustice. Or he was waiting for us
to grow up, for the moment my brother
would turn to me—I feel
really bad about that—both of us
finally walking there, not a thing
in our hands, nothing to him,
less than nothing.
—Marianne Boruch (Tippecanoe County)
This poem is from Grace, Fallen from (Wesleyan University Press, 2008, second edition 2010) and first appeared in Seneca Review.
Marianne Boruch’s most recent books of poetry are Cadaver, Speak (2014), and The Book of Hours, winner of the 2013 Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award, both books by Copper Canyon Press which will bring out her next collection, Eventually One Dreams the Real Thing, in July. She teaches in the MFA Program at Purdue University and semi-regularly in the low-residency Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
Poetry Prompt: A Regret
What action do you now regret? At the time, it could have seemed like an insignificant action, but now its cruelty or insensitivity haunts you. Write a poem about that regret. Include descriptive details from the past, as well as details you conjure now from a different perspective.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.