What’s Left to Tell by Matthew Thorburn


I remember icy water hauled up
in a bucket from a well

we were wandering by then

and the wooden chest he tore apart
with a claw hammer for a fire

my name is not Jean
said Jean my hands are not
my hands are not done shaking

I remember the scar you could see
when he faced the light

so hungry once he tried to eat
his shoelaces he sighed the buttons
right off his shirt he muttered

and then because it was green
he said even his shirt

well first just the collar
but then the cuffs and then

he knew where we were by looking at
the stars knew how
to make me believe he did

on his arm a tattoo of a knife
in his hand a knife

one Sunday they found us

they cut down the church bell
it clanged against the ground
they hanged him with the rope

no I won’t tell won’t tell it
that way it was only

a gray bucket I remember
clattering at the bottom of a well.


Matthew Thorburn is the author of seven collections of poems, including The Grace of Distance, forthcoming from LSU Press this fall, and Dear Almost (LSU Press, 2016), which won the Lascaux Prize for Collected Poetry. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and son.