All Commentary
Sunday, May 8, 2016

Past Lives

These are the ghosts that gather at dawn,
drawn to light and company: the men 
who meet each day at the auto shop counter
to talk of work, of what can be kept working. 
The mechanic’s second job 
may be grading, cutting building sites 
into the mountain where he grew up,
but he says his memories of being a child 
in those woods are vivid, pronouncing the i
so it stretches long into a y, goes deep,
and buries itself in the earth again.
The truck driver (that’s what he does for money)
is truly a farrier and tells of the lame horse
he has come from treating. Just touching
the tendons of her legs, he could tell
she had a strain from standing in mud.  
Of course, they feel the shifting ground.  
On the hardest of mornings
in winter, they watch each other appear
through frosted windows, smoking 
and so doubly clouded. 
Lifting hands to mouths, they could be
blowing kisses good bye.

  • Rose McLarney is an assistant professor of poetry at Oklahoma State University and the author of a collection of poems, The Always Broken Plates of Mountains (Four Way Books).