I live in a house of cattail.
I am afraid of fire
for all the general, practical reasons.
A tree leans against another tree
and it’s OK for a while.
My mother did her best.
Once, she said there will never be enough love in the world for you,
but in the dream she meant it fondly.
1 My granddaddy divines unto me in four dreams of Joseph’s
Poor boy, yam boy: Alabama with no daddy, no mama
Just six soldiers shooting at stray dogs from the edge of eighteen years
To a bullet in the thigh deep enough to go back home
Joseph throws his hands down, yanks him by the legs into the light
2 I fell off my bike the moment my Granddaddy died in 2008
I stepped in the door covered in purple thistle, yard-grass,
I want to be good and small and forgivable forever
Instead, I drip thorns onto the yellow bathroom tile and watch
My daddy doubt the whole damn house down [Refrain]
3 The house already doubted down, dammit, my daddy never saw
Grandaddy in all the girl cousins’ rooms, our bodies buckling
Under the man we were being asked to mourn and yes
We did, we mourned him each morning
The day that man died I slept my first night through
4 I take me and my fifteen hungers back to Alabama, Lord,
What I got given, lifted out of the grass, told to take my eyes off of man
To make room for all of that God, call my boys, the ones
Who tried to hold my head under the water long enough to save me.
Did the river know who we were then, Lord? Did You tell it?
Acie Clark is an MFA candidate and part-time farmer based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They are the most recent Online Editor for Black Warrior Review's Boyfriend Village, with Short Boyfriend. Their recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Foglifter Press, American Short Fiction, and Puerto del Sol.