Devil Music
by Steve Lambert

The grime-polished soles of our feet,
like the pads of furbearing animals,
skeet skeet across the linoleum floor
as we pass each other in the kitchen.
In a trailer the air-conditioning vents
are on the floor. Heat is a luxury
Florida does not require. She’s the
first pregnant child I ever knew: Kool
-Aid mustache, too-big or too-small
hand-me-downs; crooked, home-done
bangs. “My old man don’t like my uppity
school friends.” Her pa gives me noogies
and Indian burns and hurts donuts and I
feed the crow. We wrestle each other,
inflict small pains, two little brothers
acting like big brothers. He’s not so bad,
keeps her out of the rain, but he’s no real
help with anything. Mom’s gone. “You
have to ignore a good many things here.”
He pretends his girl did not drink from
the well; that his wife’s address does
not change weekly; that his daughter will
not become her. His child with child
and I go to her room and listen to
contemporary Christian rock. It’s
terrible stuff, but anything else is
“devil music.” We act as if every
occurrence around us is incidental,
beside the point: a willed blur of inconsequence,
surrounding us, warming us up. “You
can’t internalize everything, it’ll kill you.”
This is who we are. It’s okay. We’re
a/c-vents-on-the-floor people. We’re
used to a bottom-up approach to things.

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