Before The War

Before The War

by Scot Siegel

here he chops a ripe cord in a whiteout by the treatment plant. there she leans over a granite island high on the hill. she’s kneading the fair-trade rye with the chatter of daughters in the foreground. with each blade strike, pine tinctures the fog over the settling pond & he draws the hard air a little deeper.

*

sometimes a dayshift dream: here she joins him on the spring-loaded seat of a backhoe. she’s left the kitchen unattended; the stove hisses, flooding the house with gas. there her husband dozes while the wallpaper curls from the fumes in the hours it takes to dig the trench.

*

now he collects scrap: builds lean-tos for ghost soirees & tells time by the hum of arterials. some days he sits cross-legged by the tracks for hours & pretends he has pennies for the trains. when the folding arms of the crossing guard finally come down, she becomes nearly human again.

*

rain. rain like sheet metal and rolling pins. it wasn’t always this way. back in the day, they’d hold hands in the rain & wander the town smelling jasmine stamens by the bay. he’d pick brambleberries in jean cutoffs while she plucked sea glass from the cobbles in a summer dress.

*

july 4. a processional of tubas. veterans saluting one another under main street awnings snapping in the wind. that was the last time she kissed him. july 4th, dusk, they walked the briny shore before the big show began.


-refers to the phrase “the hill” in  Cary Briel’s poem Shall I Go Up?


  1. Oh, I would argue that this is poetry, but of course, what kind of an argument is that? Whatever we call it, it is lovely and the end is particularly poignant.

  2. Thanks, Annmarie, I’m flattered by the argument. Technically, this piece could be placed under non-fiction because it is probably true for someone somewhere.

  3. It’s true for me, Scott. My husband died a year ago this week and there are snippets and threads that won’t weave back into flesh and pine tincture, but it hurts too much to explain. Better that someone else do it.

  4. Kcamp300 – sorry for your lost but I love your sentiment ” there are snippets and threads that won’t weave back into flesh and pine tincture, but it hurts too much to explain. Better that someone else do it” because writing, the best of it anyway, is about finding a way to empathize or sympathize with the rest of the world. Thanks for stopping by to share.

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