He Runs into the Wind
This is not a Wyoming
love story. There are
no beautiful sunsets here,
no, not in this tale;
no cowboys and cowgirls
dressed up like mannequins
in a Wrangler store,
no flash where your grandfather caught
your grandmother’s eye
at some dinner party
out on the deck at someone’s ranch.
There’s just an oil field
in a shallow ocean of sagebrush
somewhere on the reservation
under the stubble of moonlight,
where two drunk teenagers
are having sex like frenzied jackrabbits
in the back of a car.
Years later, that oil-field child,
feels the tar flowing through him.
His heartbeat is trapped below the ground.
He runs through thunderstorms
chasing the forks of lightning,
trying to set his blood on fire
to show he matters to the world.
There’s no catching him,
no stopping him.
He runs into the wind.
Young Like You
There is a single road.
Where it leads, you already know.
I don’t have to say.
Even the clouds get tipsy there,
drinking up the sunset’s citrus glow.
They taste and swirl and wander.
You’re going to want to follow
and take that road too soon,
but stay for a while and listen
to the birds singing in the distance
and the river whispering near the trees.
Listen and they’ll tell you their life stories,
how once they were wings
and waters young like you,
wanting to go farther
where the treetops reached the open sky;
how they wished they’d stilled themselves,
let the breeze
find them along its way.
Alabama, the middle of summer,
somewhere near Birmingham.
I’m seventeen, working for my father,
So far from the dry heat of Wyoming,
my insides sweat.
From the cab of his truck, I watch him
on his phone, pacing along the highway,
hands gyrating, raging at someone
on the other side of that call.
The other semis swerve to miss
as he strays onto the highway.
He’s in his fire cocoon again,
the anger wrapping itself around him
so tight that to get him out
it’s going to take a winged explosion.
And then it comes. He screams and swears
and shatters the phone against the asphalt.
He climbs into the cab, announces he’s quitting again.
We drive to a pay phone at a truck stop
to call another moving company.
The next day, we’re on our way
to pick up a load in Tuscaloosa.
Twenty years later,
I’ll be back in Wyoming,
standing there at the steps
of my ex-wife’s house,
trying to pick up my kids.
My weekend. My right.
She won’t answer, and on
those steps, at that moment,
my father’s cocoon will find me
like it always does,
wrap itself around my heart,
and my pulse will start flapping
louder than the lighting of a fuse.
Then my body will supernova,
scattering a hundred thousand burning moths
into the summer sky,
enough to burn that house to the ground.
They will be my father’s moths, I know,
but they will be inescapable
as though my blood
carried the dust of their wings.
But now I’m back in my father’s truck
My father stares out the window.
The engine roars.
“I can’t help it,” he says. “Sometimes I can’t
control it when it comes.”
And then I say the only thing
I know to say:
“Dad, I think I understand.”
Aden Thomas grew up in central Wyoming. Previously, his work has been featured in The Inflectionist Review, Turtle Island, and Up The Staircase Quarterly. His first collection of poems, What Those Light Years Carry was published by Kelsay Books in 2017. More at: www.adenthomas.com.