by Nick Soluri
In the snow I cannot
hold any weight I'm given.
Hanging on the wooden
shovel handle like the boy
I will never grow away from,
it seems that his rock hard
hands could cut clean
through blocks of ice.
Its better somewhere else
on the Earth. In a corner
another boy is riding a horse,
learning knots, preparing for war.
If there is a place where hands
can be washed clean and returned
to an imagined purity, is never where
the father has been. Sons take
what is passed down, given portals
and asked to close their fathers’ pasts.
When I cannot hoist the snow
over my shoulder, he laughs,
shows me how to tense
a bicep, position
my shoulders. It’s like asking
a bad soldier to relieve
his morals. It is like asking a soldier to stop
thinking of his country first. I am not
a soldier, I can never be anything
other than gentle—a pressed face
in the soft snow. The right
lighting feigns immortality.
I cannot scoop all that is asked of me
into hands I never hold. Instead,
I remind myself: for every callus
there was a choice.
But what makes the callus,
must forget the bruise.
When the day is finally finished,
we build a fire. Crack a whiskey.
Near us, the heaps of snow
glow white against the siding
of the house. In this lighting, I can see
the weapon of his body uncovering.
He hands me a glass, hurriedly,
before I can say otherwise.
The mounds of snow glow white
against a black sky, impossible stars.