House Keeping
by Kenny A. Chaffin

It’s a way of cleaning,
the rearranging of furniture
cleaning away the dust-bunnies
that have gathered over the winter

like examined memories
turned from side to side
end to end. Moving them
from place to place
clearing the cobwebs,
refining the past

I move the memory of my brother
from the Huffy bicycle he rode to
the stone that bears his name

I see the glistening water of Lake Texhoma
its dead-carp smell in the bright summer sun
remembered through a buzz of alcohol

I cry for my sister’s two black eyes
the two cars totaled,
the blame all mine

I smell the rich black Oklahoma earth
turned and planted with cotton seed

I feel the sting of cotton bolls
on my back as I lie, a boy
in the harvest trailer
the crisp autumn-leaf smell
of cotton flung from the harvester’s
snout onto my chest burying me

I sweep away the regret of never
really knowing my father, try
not to blame my mother, after
all they were young,
so very very young.

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