When I was 21

When I was 21 I lived on a farm in the east, a sprinkler system my alarm clock. We and Us had been reduced to I, and I combed for truth among the green and brown isles, the spinning clouds. The soft snow drifting and landing in my hair. At night, ribbons of pitched fire rose into the black rain. I’d been wondering if the road ahead leads just where you choose it to, and what in this world you could call perfect. I’d been raised in a home of women with ears to listen, and my young head was still ablaze. Pierre—the strawberry farmer—said, Trust your wounds to one who knows what they’re doing. Your foe would kill you more than once if they could. And they will. I said, tell me how you know for certain you’re not also lost to the clutch of circumstance? He put his thumb between his eyes and barked. Remind me again, he said, is it or is it not the blank space between walls which we call home? The hands must toil, the face must sweat. But after a hard digging the harvest surely comes. And with that, he waddled on down the road into the rising moon and closed the door after him. It was as if he’d drawn my face and labeled it a self-portrait.

Alden Wallace Mackay has been published in Cloud Carnival, POETiCA REViEW and the Capilano Courier. Most recently he has written and directed 4 short films, and self-published a collection of poetry entitled Endless Nights.

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1 Response to When I was 21

  1. ljjanes says:

    This is very rich, and the line about “the blank space between walls“ really hit me in the gut. I love the last line also.

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