about the author

Terry Minchow-Proffitt lives in St. Louis, MO. His poems have appeared in Arkansas Review, Christian Century, Deep South Magazine, Desert Call, and Oxford American. More recent poems are forthcoming in Prick of the Spindle, St. Ann’s Review and Valparaiso Poetry Review.

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Holding My Own

Terry Minchow-Proffitt

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The beloved of YHWH! He dwells securely upon him,
he surrounds him every day, as between his shoulders he dwells.
—Deut. 33:12

You were light, son, barely one
in that backpack, strapped tight heaved high
cinched reliant to my bony shoulders.
You rode rapt the first mile or so,
your new head bundled round in that hood
jabbering Hail Ye from above, scatterbrained electric neon taut
eyes sky-blue your two fists clutched full
of my hair while my fingers cast a crow
on a highline wire here and nail a stray dog
snuffling there and I’m asking you again tell me again
what a tiger says and you growl
small bursts of steam into winter.

Your face rose as mine well-nigh
began to fall. Each hoisting up startled
a grim gnawing on nothing but.
The snaggled dark, heavy-winged, rustles and flares.
Its pinched crown pops from the cavity; the beak quits the wound.
The yellow claws of a sudden
yank clear and shirk my carrion back.

We tramp wherever
the sidewalks lead.
No one’s ever home here.
Too soon my steps lull you to sleep,
slumped against my neck. I veer
toward a field, straying
with your silence across the stubble.
The trees sprinkled on this stretch Your little
sister’s due most any day now
bear few leaves
and limbs blacken My new job’s still
as dusk claims the woods
Rent’s late a red smudge on the horizon
redeems in part the gray.
Something’s circling overhead.

Yes, I am a carrier—this I confess
twenty years later, as I am wont,
though the recent photo on my desk
shows me now on your back.
That day in the park with you home on fall break
a whim said Jump, so I did, a moment spent
riding high with swanky shades
and a wide grin, you too, doubled over,
determined to hunker down and bear up your old man.

The tense is hard to figure
when the weight of two decades
lessens, as at radiant once
my footing becomes yours
by the light of our heft.
Warped by wit and back and bone,
we lay hold, and the adorned world
rushes before us.

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