Down to One
by David Sloan


You’re more careful than ever as you stack
the wood you can no longer split yourself.

Can’t twist to your right so well or squat
without your knees grinding like rock tumblers.

Even with one less body to warm, the cabin
still needs the same four cords to stave off

single digits. A red-tailed hawk in you
wants to wing away, but wood and worry

about what comes after weigh you down.
You yearn for words to still drop

into your hands like rope ladders,
long for a vista to counter this creeping

sense of shrinkage, but the horizon has clamped
shut, like rolldown steel doors on concrete.

You fear you will cease to care about seedlings,
surrender to loathing even the simplest

of pleasures: waft of coffee, banked fire, ring
of porch chimes—a final gift she gave herself

to break winter’s malignant silence—
the flurry of wings around the bird feeder,

empty now. You used to crave quiet,
but since she’s been gone, it fills you

like gravity; you’re a slow motion boulder
caroming down a canyon to a place

that will accommodate only you, charmless
but warm, where the demands are few,

the giving even less.






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