by Brandon Amico
: Look up. Follow the first thing that moves, unless it’s cloud;
thin-lipped, not to be trusted, they are known to move opposite
progress. When in doubt, head west. Carry one ocean to the other.
Take your great father’s grand purple heart and your credit
cards, pack dice and broken wristwatches, everything
that glints. Relieve your luggage its burden of emptiness. Name
everything, then say goodbye. Go somewhere warm and star-flecked.
Be somebody, or give up now; if you will become a tree
then do it; stand with your arms up and hands open and wait for winter
where you needn’t move or speak. Otherwise, keep going. The legs
that move till the land under them. This land is your land; buy a shovel,
kill snakes. It’s supposed to be hard. The stars were dropped so far away
you must reach. Bills grow faster than crops and almost more naturally.
The heat will sap earth from your pores, lightning will try to punch your
teeth out, but sometimes you taste the metal of blood in surviving.
If you survive, you must build: a house where your limbs sense water,
a home big enough to forget your lover’s face. Burn the tall grass where
she beds some other man, or so the play of moonlight between blades
suggests. Plant children on that spot. There are miles spooled in your ankles;
string a guitar with them. Play “Home on the Range” for the kids
then smash the thing when they move out. The moon will tear across
the skies, and you will have trouble remembering who you were and where
they went. You will look up for answers—and squint. You will think
you see yourself, or maybe your father. (There will already be an old man
in the moon; he climbed there and you didn’t.) Maybe you will be glad
for the telescope—its body the hull of a scorched tree, tent-pole legs
and cacophony of hard wind in its gut—later, you will be buried
with a swollen tongue and a jar of whistles. For now, hoard mirrors
in the unfinished room down the hall, as many lenses as you can find, plate-glass,
windows, spoons or diamonds, scrap metal, anything that can reflect or
refract, can take distance and condense it, cram it into a light you can hold.
Swing the scope up and say, Gods, I am a hall of footsteps, I am
carrying my father’s father, and I come to you with his face
and the trumpet of a promise in our ears. I don’t know what it is
but I have come to take what’s mine.