Father, tell me about the Moor
who moored his boat in a moor,
how he ate petrified alligator toes
and hid his prayers in snail shells,
how he turned into a bear, refused to hunt,
spent his days licking the shadows
of crows that stretched before him.
Brother, tell me the one about the woman who planted
her husband’s pool cue in the ochre loam
of her childhood creek, the smooth ash knotting
into dogwood, the blue tip’s sobering blooms.
Tell me about the woman at the dump,
her eyes large and dark as a mule’s,
how she enters our dreams when she gathers our junk.
Mother, tell me about the bricklayer who was taken away
to rebuild the city of God, how he didn’t need
a plumb line to lay the golden courses,
how his trowel turned into a crappie when he was done.
But this time let me finish: his son mixed
what he’d learned in Sunday school and comic books
to try to make sense of it all,
wished he were Thor, winged crown of tinfoil on his head,
his father’s brick hammer dangling from a belt loop,
how he descended into the underworld
of the basement to find his father
after the burning bush was just burning brush
and the rainbow bridge was merely
the long frown of the morning storm.
Adam Vines teaches creative writing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he is Editor of Birmingham Poetry Review and Director of the English Honors Program. He is the author of The Coal Life (U of Arkansas P, 2012) and According to Discretion (Unicorn P, 2015).