based on the photo “Echoes Small”
by Kevin Hinkle
I can’t always tell which side of the grate
I’m on. Others think it important to know
mistaking it for a cell. But the arcs and curls,
casting shadows across the ground,
dust the moment over in its iron beauty.
Slow oxidation under the paint
rewrites the sentence to mean: here
is the other side of waking. The sun
stretches its fingers through each chink and coil,
a nourishment of so many visitors who can’t imagine
how history imbeds its traces like slag,
threading all our remembrances with a grain
that can be read as the rings of a tree,
but only at its breaking point. By then,
it’s clear, it was always a private affair,
these elegant bars designed not to keep me in
but to keep you out, until the last quarter moon
hauls the tides into afternoon sky,
filling the lungs of mourners with the vast
seascape of all they will slowly forget.
Michael T. Young’s third full-length collection, The Infinite Doctrine of Water, was longlisted for the Julie Suk Award. His previous collections are The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost and Transcriptions of Daylight. He received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His chapbook, Living in the Counterpoint, received the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award. His poetry has been featured on Verse Daily and The Writer’s Almanac. It has also appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Atticus Review, Gargoyle Magazine, One, Rattle and Valparaiso Poetry Review.