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Steve Healey

Terminal Moraine



Midway on our journey we’d gotten lost like golfballs

in a dark forest. Like tiny brains shanked into the unknown

by a slippery three-wood, we’d forgotten why

we were supposed to keep score. One of us said,

up ahead there’s a new path, let’s give up the old path.

Soon the new path began to look like the old path in reverse,

and we kept feeling that old loss of newness,

digressing enough that we started to repeat our gossip.

Someone said that we were lost on the geological debris

left behind by a glacier 10,000 years ago,

midway on its journey back home. Someone recalled

getting lost once in a photobooth on a beach in New Jersey.

Someone recalled getting lost once in a bumblebee costume.

Someone said that researchers had put some ants

on stilts and cut the legs of other ants in half

to prove that ants find their way home by counting steps.

We’d lost count long ago, but then someone recalled

a small green pond at the start of our journey and said,

we should start thinking like a pond. The pond appeared

and said, this is the end of the path, you should start

thinking like a fire. Already we could see the burning wood,

and the trees all around, the not-burning trees,

watching the fire with awe. Someone said,

if you look far enough into the fire you can see

the embers flashing like a tiny chorus line.

Someone said, if you look far enough into the stars,

you can see a limousine pulling up, ready to drive us

into morning. The pond said, listen to these kick-ass frogs,

they remember what the glacier felt like when

it retreated, like it was letting go of a book

it would never finish. We listened to the frogs,

and for a while, we didn’t say anything stupid.





The Whiteness of My Family


My brother the hazardous waste inspector

sent me a news report about a fire that burned

down a warehouse of white phosphorous

at a US Army arsenal. In the news report

my brother said there’s been an impact to creeks

in the surrounding area, contaminated water

actually made it to the river, and there was a fish kill.

My brother the inspector said his department

will continue to monitor the arsenal’s clean up

of whiteness from the news. The arsenal said

a leaking can started the fire, but the fire

has been extinguished by the fish kill.

Many years ago my brother grew inside

our mother’s uterus. He grew curious

and swam down the river and found the sun

that would first burn his baby ass. He learned

his vowel sounds, he learned how to speak

of wasted rivers and leak a can of painful news.

The more I learned from him, the more we

sounded like each other, the farther we swam,

slurring our consonants, rounding the bend,

coming to the mouth. The same mouth that said

there’s an arsenal in the future, personnel

are cleaning up the slab where the fire

burned down the warehouse of whiteness,

but there’s the possibility of a flare up in the future.

When our family lived in total whiteness

in a house wrapped in aluminum siding,

sometimes a mouth said, not now, it’s time

to wash your hands, we’re about to eat dinner.

Then my brother dumped all the fishfood

in the tank, the fish saw the ceiling of their lives

as too much to eat right now to keep living

or even make it to the river. Our mother said,

it will get dark in the future, and if you look

into the dark far enough, you won’t remember

what the stars look like. Sometimes

when you’re underwater they all

begin to look like one big star.



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