Dec 30, 2008


Written by Brent Goodman

Read by Lori Lamothe

My dropout brother swears a mouthful of freon
at the pressure gauge factory — his station
calibrated fittings for water mains, rescue
squads, crimson ladder trucks. Freon line
obstructed, he lifts the cool siphon to his mouth.
What were you thinking? Seventeen, saving
for his first kick-ass import MGB. Shift
supervisor scoffing, Skoal-yellow teeth:
Dumbass move, Goodman. He cuts a corner
and splices his blood in two. Grief begins with how,
not why. First week in oncology Mark confides in mom:
Before I could do anything, it just evaporated
in my mouth. It was there, and then it was gone.

I wasn’t there, sawdust concrete floor,
siphon rising to his lips. He came home
ghost-faced, went to bed. Dreamt he
swallowed sky until his blood turned
to wind. Shift supervisor retelling the story
at home over dinner, mouth spitting peas,
fork in his piggy fist. Mark cuts a corner
and swallows glass, his blood squeezed
thin as a microscope slide. It was there, then
it was gone
. Grief begins with a story
I’m not sure how to tell. Eighteen years
after his funeral mom confides to us
a new religion that almost explains
everything. Before I could do anything,
it just evaporated in my mouth.
That night
I came home ghost-faced, went to bed.
Dreamt us careening his convertible up Holy Hill,
switchback wooded moraines, top down
as it starts to drizzle. Dear dropout sick
of school, your blood swallows wind. Grief
begins with every story I try to tell. I wasn’t there,
your hair thinning to nothing. My mouth burns cold.
Rain on the windshield disappearing fast as it falls.