Twisting Ropes

I spent all of last week on Lake Powell, pulling warmed skin through water, hiking up chalky canyons, drinking in the morning, looking for wild horses, watching the sky not change while wind ripped at the ropes holding the boat to the rocky shore. The chords groaned and stretched, sagged, then snapped tight again, and I braced myself for a disaster that did not come. Tonight, I did a load of laundry at my parents' house and walked Quincy in the golden field where foxes howl late at night. We had barbecued chicken and corn, and then the neighbor came over and told me he has lost track of where I live.

When I got in bed, I heard my brother in the hallway, home after a three hour drive where he's a priest in a small farming town, not unlike where I taught in Louisiana three years ago. He is plagued there by mistrust, by people who see the white in his collar and turn angry and irrational, the way blame makes someone turn when they don't have anywhere to direct it. He stood in my doorway talking about the guys at the prison who do trust him and how that's the place where there might be more reality than among the free. At least he gets homegrown tomatoes, though, from some old guy in town, and he knows to buy applewood-smoked bacon, and he puts this all on gluten-free bread with mayonnaise, and sometimes that's enough to get you through the shit of the day that threatens to take away the goodness of a good sandwich but doesn't.

A young boy is lost in the suburbs tonight. A 17 year-old with spinabiffida and a backpack full of medication. They sent out a reverse phone call and said everyone should check their cars for him. At the end of my walk today, I might have passed him. At the end of my walk today, I noticed they started emptying the water out of the pool. At the end of my walk today, the sky changed so fast it hurt my heart a little bit, knowing that there's never enough summer. This is the time of year for change, for wondering what I haven't changed yet.

In my brother's hand tonight, I could see a silhouette: the scapular of Mary twisting tight then unwinding back to its natural laxity, a tiny square of hope separating then blending into his black pants, then disappearing when he said goodnight.