The Pigs (excerpt)

Tim Carter

Poking a dead thing with a stick. Waiting for the bus to arrive. Wednesday. A dirty pink rag, a tiny dry nose. How old were you when you learned you didn’t deserve the rest of your life? Black trash bags by the massive lilac bush. Dew on the hood of the car now gone. Sight is the softest form of touch. Wet leaves in the street, clenched teeth, caged anger. We emerge on the other side of adolescence pretty much the same, give or take an illness, an arm scar, a car accident. What was just earlier a squirrel, its neck broke by a bike tire. Why doesn’t joy ache? Why does it not throb for years as pain does deep in your right thigh where you are pressing your pencil? She died, and you didn’t. What else could be squeezed out of the rag of memory? School beckons. What matters most is least real. A strand of her hair caught in jewelry. Years later a bit of her laughter in yours. The cool soothing morning air, the distant sounds of sirens. Arias of teenage pain whistling through your ribs like a bitter wind. You could be forgiven for thinking that you deserved to be happy. Why else be given all of this sensitive equipment? Thinking
like holding a bit of raw meat in your hand. How she had washed you in the kitchen sink like a dish. How your father threw you over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. What was, was good. There must be another life beneath this life: endurable, infinite, spherical, smooth. As if hidden in every cell the unscratchable cornea of God. The broken window in your old house, your gashed wrist, an accident. Her running from the kitchen with a damp rag, kneeling down. Where does the self end, where does it begin? We hope the past up. A neighbor sweeps the yellow leaves from her front porch. A shirtless man rides by on a bike holding a dead bird by its wing. Change is often confused with decay. A dull blue when the bus finally comes. Elsewhere, spring arrives at thirty miles an hour.

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Tim Carter is a poet, educator, and baker living in Syracuse, NY. Author of Remains (BOAAT 2020), winner of the 2019 Book Prize from BOAAT Press. MFA from Syracuse University. Poems and more can be found at Follow on Twitter @poortimothy1.

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