Barry Silesky’s last collection was This Disease (University of Tampa Press). He’s also authored biographies of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and John
Gardner in addition to directing the literary magazine ACM. For many years he’s lived four doors from the left field bleachers of Wrigley Field in Chicago waiting for the World Series championship that’s certain to come one of these centuries.
The war is finally over. The hospitals are filled with the dying and those still alive but crippled for life. The beautiful women have come to congratulate us and invite us into their lives. They’ve taken off all their clothes and all we can do is dream. This is the life I always wanted. And now that it’s here, I don’t have to live. The sky is perfectly blue and the warmth of the spring bathes us. Anytime now, I’ll
remember how to save the world from the horror every one dreams. Any day now, blueberries are ripe, the tomatoes huge and the music everyone wanted washes the air. The friends who have died surround me and promise the only future I ever wanted. Even the wife who left me is making her way back filled with apology and promise to be the woman I wanted.
The rest of the story is loaded with explosions and secrets I’m sure to discover. It begins with the house I found in a forest where no one lives. It started with a chainsaw in a book my sons come to hate, but he doesn’t understand the way he’s got to be bigger than me and cut through the fodder I’ve been trying as long as breath to clear. That he’ll have to get under the old car that stopped running and turn it himself into the magic ship he can drive as the world falls away and he is left, alone, in a forest to sight the limits he’ll have to explain to his children. The brother who died will come back and explain what’s waiting for all of us, including the mother so rich and famous we can’t keep up.
That won’t stop us because there’s a story our whole lives are bound to be telling, as long as we breathe. It begins with this accident and iambic pentameter. There are all the speeches we spend our lives trying to remember. For me, it began with a chainsaw and a book about the men trying to found a union to get paid for the logs they were sending down river, amid trees taller than anyone, on the way to Japan and places so far we can only tell stories we barely imagine.