With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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After working for twenty-five years as a professional gardener, Charles Goodrich has worn out his knees, so he’s retooling to become a fifth-grade teacher. He lives in Corvallis, Oregon, and has written two poetry chapbooks: Insects of South Corvallis (Knot House) and New Pests Every Day.
I dig another nailhead out of the old siding with the cat’s-paw, slip a crowbar around it, and then draw the 16d sinker out. The squawk of the nail letting go jangles my nerves. If an unwelcome memory wanted to announce itself with a noise, the cry of a rusty nail would do the job.
Afterward, no one present recalled my pausing. It was brief, practically instantaneous, but it was one of those moments that open vertically, perpendicular to time, and encompass worlds.
Carrying the baby horizontally across my chest like a football usually calms him, and often puts him to sleep. But not tonight. He’s still crying, cycling through his whole repertoire: the screechy fear cry; the lower, throaty demand cry; the pitiable gasping interspersed with slobbery whimpers.