“That Other While” by Tim Skeen

Tim Skeen


When a car hits our neighbor’s beagle,
breaking its back in front of our house,

my mother tells me to drag her into
the driveway. Eugene leans over

his dog, tears running down his face.
I can’t, he says. I just can’t do it.

My mother tells me to get the .22; 
the edge in her voice makes me run.

She cycles the bolt and hands the rifle
to me. You know what to do, she says.

The moment I squeeze the trigger,
I join the army. The moment she

points out where to dig the hole
in the backyard, I get out of the army.

The moment Eugene, on his knees over
the grave, looks at me, open mouthed, 

eyes red-rimmed and wide, I become
middle-aged, then old, then alone.

from Rattle #66, Winter 2019


Tim Skeen: “The older I become, the less the world seems to be making sense to me in everything but poetry.” (web)

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