In Lacombe, Louisiana • Louis E. Bourgeois

Mother is at the window
calling me from a distance
of twenty years.
Her squirrel stew is still on the stove.
Carrots and purple onions drift
along the October wind.

My step-father burns
every stump in the yard
with every tire he can find.
His stomach still flat
his beard pure red.
He's waiting for the pipeline
to blow up the front yard.
One day it will.

My brother in the road --
he plays with a plastic toy --
a tow-headed boy with capped teeth.
He'll grow up vicious and fine;
many women will know him.
He'll die in some mine-shaft
leaving behind children
enough to carry his name.

I'm out there too, walking
a swamp-ridge and carrying
a single-shot twelve-gauge.
There's blood on my face: mosquitoes.
I'm out there shaking and sweating
with only half a father
and half a brother
and no mother to speak of.
I stop and listen to her voice
drifting from a long way off.