Poetry by Bret Addison • Photo by Jill Burhans


Four Solitudes

I

Stubble of soy beans
protrude from
the black frozen ground
and snap beneath the weight
of my boots.
Through the steam of my breath,
the shadow of the barn
faintly appears.
The cold aches in my legs,
not even walking
brings heat or some distant
memory of the hearth.


II

She walks across
the kitchen floor and pauses
to remember why she came
and what she needs.
Curls spill out
from beneath her red bandana
like wisps of smoke
on damp leaves.
I love her more without
her face prepared
when she’s not conscious of my eyes.
That's when I see her.
A little girl,
sitting on a porch,
crying from a cut.


III

He sits at the bar.
No one knows him and he hums
to himself an old song,
“Both whiskey and pain,
they both taste the same.”
He waits for the band to start
to mask this sitting and staring,
this pretense of smiles.
He meets a woman
and her body is smooth
beneath his rough fingers.
He awakes to the dryness of his throat.
He knows there is nothing
to be blown out and done with,
even the candles are tiny bulbs
made to flicker.


IV

She faces outward
from the edge of the bed.
She does not touch
any part of him.
He lies upon his back
staring into the dark
where the ceiling should be.
Silence, layered upon silence,
becomes a roar
like the fan in the window.
He rolls over and tries to melt
into the night, to become nothing
or anything,
to avoid that space
that gaps their bodies,
mapping their tiny deaths.


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