The earth launched up one summer two generations of cicadas like fireworks from the fields. He took the kids out with sticks to the dogwoods where they swung at the buzzing droves & when they missed the white flowers scattered, the petals all over the grass & in their hair but always, he said, with one eye down the hill. He said from time to time I turn my back on the sun. What a wise man does is distrust his very shadow & keep the horizon in sight, expecting always death to rise in the shape of a man from the dirt. I remember he ate armed & kept Stonewall saddled behind the barn. I remember you couldn’t walk those months without a crunch beneath your feet.
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Moonshiners all night along the ridge, swinging their lanterns like cow tails. Thinking instead of a cattle herd takes none of the edge away. I tell you the night bears its blade in sound & sight, the hilt itself the weight of your own body, a grain sack across your shoulders. The crisp snap in darkness could be the broken twig of one approaching, or it’s a vision of her snapping pole beans in the garden. The prickle on my back could be what warm memory feels like, or any number of night’s haunts hunting my head.

KEVIN WEIDNER hails from Missouri and currently lives in Tuscaloosa, where he is pursuing an MFA in creative writing at the University of Alabama. He edits the online journal 751 magazine.