While I was gone, a storm
chewed up a metre of frontage
and brought down the last of the birches
lording over the place. The gulls are all shrieking
with glee, claiming
rain hammered the windows like bullets.
Must have been
one wild night. Like that time I woke to the ruckus
of uncles in the kitchen. Jim lurching
as he cursed the others and clung
to a mickey of old C.C. That burned going down
and fired him up. And Bob
starting in on Fred
for falling off the ladder again—smashed
at two in the afternoon, and a gallon of good paint
wasted. Salt spray of glass as John and Ken came sailing
in through the picture window
in a furious embrace
of brotherly misunderstanding. Another fine
get-together wrecked, and for what. I guess boys
routinely strapped with alder switches
grow into rootless men
with watermelon bellies and sweet-potato noses.
Moose eaters, wife beaters,
mean drinkers, dark thinkers,
my father and his brothers never had a chance
and then they had it coming.
It takes more than one good blow
from the north to bring them down,
but when they do fall, it’s alone and in the dark.