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The Shed

ISSUE:  Autumn 1987

We were told to stay away,
but my brother was not afraid,
and pulled himself up to peer in,
then broke the lock with the heavy
rock I had dragged along
for protection in the high weeds.

Inside the shed held its breath,
packed with a mess of tools,
we hardly knew what for,
scythes with rusty blades,
buckets of nails spilled
over on the cement floor,
and a sword from Confederate times
(that must have been a saw)
my brother used it to cut me
open like a haw, to see
what was there, inside.

When surgeons see our dark
abandoned places they must be
struck sometimes by the stillness,
a certain, evil repose,
and seize what frightens them most,
a greasy sebaceous cyst,
made of hair and teeth and bone,
and leave, lock back
the broken lock as best they can.

My uncle who never speaks
cleaned out the shed that year,
and made two heaps, useful,
useless. Then he killed
a snake in the humming weeds,
and with the same scythe cut
down the yellow grass.
Then the shed, never a hiding
place, fell in, and was hauled away.


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