HALF-EMPTY, WAITING FOR A HAND

Major Jackson


Three young boys architect snow.
In the graying house, their aging father
agitates mid-evening dust with a broom.
On top of the mantel sits his bottle,
half-empty, waiting for a hand.
He stops to peer out the misty window;

his children are playing. The window
caulked by a wispy thread of snow,
layered in frost feels a tired hand
pressed upon face, making circles. The father
looks through a pane like a bottle
lifted to his eye. He places the broom

against the wall. As if alive, the broom
inches away from the window
emitting light. He has learned to bottle
times like these; seedhusks beneath snow
seeking the sun'ís topspin. The father
needful, reaches with his right hand

for a shot of vodka; once a large thick hand
that worked the earth, now, gaunt as a broom,
rawboned, each bristle a vein. Their aging father,
a ghost-like shape in the window
trembling against the assault of snow
and gale, hoists the half empty bottle

to his mouth, head held back. The bottle
salutes the house. The boys want a hand
someone to help fashion the potential of snow
into a man. The dried, frayed broom
between hearth and window
catches ablaze concealed from the father.

Enchanted, he remembers his father
knocking down tall trees. The empty bottle
falls from lips, the window
explodes, a red cloud, a sleight of hand.
Soon, the house, the broom
will be a pile of ashes in the snow.

Three boys place a broom in a sea of snow
in the melting man'ís hand, shrine for their father
cradling a bottle, shadowless in the window.

Copyright © CrossConnect, Inc. 1996

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