I grew up in a family that did not tell
the story. I am listening to it now:
Even the morning you see a robin
flattened on the street, you hear
another in a tree, the notes
they’ve taught each other, bird
before bird before we were born.
And elsewhere, the rusty bicycle
carries the doctor all the way
across an island. He arrives in time.
Somewhere his sister adds water
to the soup until payday. And
over the final hill in a Southwestern
desert, a gas station appears. No,
the grief has not forgotten my name,
but this morning I tied
my shoelaces. Outside I can force
a wave at every face who might
need it. We might
spin till we collapse, but we still
have a hub: Even at dusk,
the sun isn’t going anywhere.
We have lamps. The story insists
it just looks like there’s only
enough oil to last one night.
Brad Aaron Modlin’s book of poems Everyone at This Party Has Two Names won the Cowles Prize and contains the viral poem “What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade.” His short collection of short stories Surviving in Drought won The Cupboard contest. He holds an MFA and a PhD in creative writing. He is a poetry professor and the Reynolds Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at University of Nebraska, Kearney.