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Caitlin Thomson

Alternative Parenting

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I took off hunting one afternoon with friends
and arrived home three day's later, carrying half a deer,
my ankle twisted. My mother did not say anything.
She iced my ankle, handed me a beer.

When I was young, she was the strict enforcer
of homework, the stern dictator of dinner hours.
Certainly not the kind of mother who drank
with her 15 year old son, on a Wednesday morning.

She cleans my shotgun and never ventures into my room
when the door is closed, even though smoke sneaks out
the bottom. Once, after coming home with a towel
around my waist, I asked her, What made you so lenient?

She handed me a pair of my father's old jeans,
poured two cups of tea and stirred in some
Triple Sec. Just couldn't see the point of rules
anymore she said, looking out the window
at the ruins of our neighbors house.

As Light into the Mountains

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There are too few lanterns here,
the dark at night is honest. Carve safety
out of the endless spools of night,
find sleep in only part of it. When
electricity still hummed, it was easy to
think past the dark, to go dancing,

work until the morning. Now every
twitch of rabbit, groan of bear,
alerts your body. Wind in the trees,
keeps you in the shallows of sleep,
too cautious to fall further. Only
when the sun enters the sky, do
you know that morning is a possibility,
that sleep has not stolen you
from the branches of elm, or oak.

Fort Worth, Texas

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The south is quiet now, the lack
of water has made it so. Electricity
still works in some parts,

so there are bursts of light,
of long recorded dance
music, of voices breaking

against pianos. In the silence
that comes with the lack of footsteps
and car horns, all that music,
the rare video loop, appears
ancient and startling..


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In the silence, my legs swaying over the edge of the dock,
I remember drinking iced tea here, years ago, near the end
of summer, when the water was as hot as the air above it.

Now ice in summer is an impossible feat, but tea is manageable,
I drink it every morning, steam adding to the sweat.
I hoard boxes of it in my camper, hidden under the bed.

Everyone clings to something I suppose, and I cling to more than
most - my clothes, my hairbrush, a decent mattress, daily tea,
sunscreen, a laptop that hasn't turned on in 5 years.

I live where my family used to spend the summers,
a plot of land beside the lake, crowded now
with empty cottages. I am old fashioned, a relic at 32,

still hoping for the return of electricity, or at least
the option of winding up a radio and hearing
Bob Dylan's voice, the closest thing to a ghost.

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