Issue > Poetry
Nicholas Reading

Nicholas Reading

Nicholas Reading is the author of the chapbook The Party in Question (Burnside Review Press, 2007) and Love & Sundries (SplitLip Press, 2014). His poetry has appeared in many journals, including Nimrod, jubilat, Gulf Coast, Painted Bride Quarterly, and New Orleans Review.

Returning Home with My Brother

       But then the moon lost its purchase in the sky
               - Norman Dubie

One grouse was let go and let to float
for a few minutes. Our smiles
were as wide as the debts we forgot.

It had nothing to do with the smell of death.

The bird landed and flew into my aim
as it, like me, was absorbed
by a forest that neither preferred.

We ate many meats for dinner.

Once I destroyed a town,
I said, and they're still talking about it.
We both recalled childhood days

like we couldn't believe they happened.

We fastened whiskey to the canoe  
and directed ourselves easy. No reed sounded.
Thank you for this evening, I said.

There is no reason to thank me, he said.

For how long we drifted I forget.
A house on the far bank held a light
I imagine was for sons unlike us.

No shadow in the kitchen lasted.

The shades over the table dimmed
to make soup of every face
and the front door a hole

that became home to some.

Fish flashed at the cigarette butts
shot into the lake. I'm not sure
if it matters who made it back to dock.


Our storms lasted months. Nothing tragic,
but noteworthy. Rain froze branches
and wires but roads wouldn't stop
so we didn't either. Down the street

sirens announced another tree.
I remember thinking I loved you
while we took stock of limbs,
carried bushels under our arms

leaving stacks at every neighbor's door.
They deserve to see it, too, you said.
Our coats were a mess. The biscuits
in my pocket were mixed with bark.

We slept comfortably that night.
There was not one mention of death
and in the morning thank you notes
poured in. The message seemed clear.


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