1. In the basement after dinner, I hadn’t said a word simply waiting for my mother to pick me up, thinking about how Mike’s dad reached across the kitchen table and slapped his face with a half-open palm, over some smart remark, until blood bloomed his lips and water gathered in the corner of his blue eyes. We ate our steaks in silence. “He worked in a slaughterhouse,” Mike whispered under the blacklight, “when he was nineteen, twenty, he’d lead them softly then slit their throats— he told me these stories, how he’d watch their faces, how their bodies would shake.” 2. I watch Mike kick Anthony in the head, the ribs. It was about money or drugs, I forget. Dull thud over and again. Red on boots, in the mud, on a white shirt. We stand around, do nothing. Mike’s little brother, Ryan, died a year ago, life-flighted, the doctor drilling holes to release the pressure caused by meth. The fight lasts forever. The fight is over in seconds. Mike stands bare-chested, sweaty, steam rising from his shoulders. I want to hug him, pull his body close to me. Back in the trailer, in the dark living room, aluminum foil on the coffee table, a gun shines in the silver light breaking in through the window.
CHARLES KELL is the author of Cage of Lit Glass, chosen by Kimiko Hahn for the 2018 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize. He teaches in Rhode Island.
Cover image by Dréa Collage
© Twyckenham Notes 2022. All rights reserved.