Barbed-wire fence. Pasture. Stand of water oaks.
This was the path to the river. Sometimes chased,
sometimes chasing, always moving fast,
sometimes an enormous rolling rock,
sometimes a hail of spears and arrows,
afraid of nothing more than standing still.
All a young man has is his faith in hard work,
the belief that if only he can count
the grains of sand in a fist-sized sack,
things will turn out as he hopes –
that when he returns home
there will be quiet afternoons
and a girl in a sweater with love on her eyelids –
yet every adventure ends
in the same weary surprise,
the same aching temples
when the poison darts fly,
when the floor drops from beneath,
when fatherhood looms and the bills come due,
when vision closes in from the corners,
when the dark mass requires surgery,
when they cut open his skull
because the only threats that matter
were inside all along.
Amorak Huey, a longtime newspaper editor and reporter, teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. His chapbook, The Insomniac Circus, is forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press, and his poems appear in The Best American Poetry 2012, The Southern Review, Menacing Hedge, Rattle, Caketrain, and many other journals. Follow him on Twitter: @amorak.