“Take a warm-up life,” said
the life coach. Some were
buying second houses, some
remodeling interiors for
sport. A damnable unit of
affluence and growth, entirely
ours. A signature being, in
every sense, a measure. But
of six teenagers in the
photograph, one died
in prison, one was shot, one
blew his face off huffing gas,
one died of overdose – we
were the other two. This was
in the land north of Everett,
where big tankers lay at
anchor for days. From
the east, we approached
that distant point, the ocean.
It was during the era when
every unexpected phone call
brought news of somebody’s
unexpected death. An
arrangement of voices.
The stem of a flower should
not suffice to hold up
the weight of the blossom.
And yet.

Andy Stallings lives in Deerfield, MA, where he teaches English at Deerfield Academy. His second collection with Rescue Press, Paradise, will come out in 2018. He has four young children, and coaches cross country running.

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