Waking in a Strange House

This morning, my clock flashes mid-life
in big red numbers. I dress in sweats and step
outside into damp Ohio, cold air clinging to me
like the childhood I drag with me all my life.

On the edge of town, the old coal tipple
crumbles in the flames of goldenrod and sumac.
Even Sunday Creek has a condemned look.
With the innocent faces of simpletons, cows

drink icy, yellow water from sandstone spits
cut a little thinner every year. Rousted by the echo
of gunshots, deer disappear into forests
thick with scrub oaks and stunted pines. What is left

of the town sits like a cinder in a lush valley
that once choked with smoke before the state
reclaimed it. I don’t know anyone here anymore.
Back at the house, I stoke the dying fire,

take my pills, and dress for one more funeral.

Kip Knott | Mudlark No. 26
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