The summer before high school our language would change when the dusk drifted into our blood. Eventually, all of us were walking inside the dark, only the street’s familiar dogs barking at the edge of a yard. There were no streetlights. We could have walked naked, the fingerprints of our dreams undetected. What we saw: failure in the houses of our parents. It shrank the street until there was nothing to absorb but words. One father was dead, his suits stored in a hall closet; one father wore suits which were foolishly styled; one father worked shifts and refused Sundays because they asked for suits. All those suits belonged to us. We wore them and made ourselves fit into the street. Walking between the six-house rows, we stopped each night at a field where none of our fathers lived. The summer began to die there. By August things crackled when we rolled over. We could hear yellows and browns in the dark. Always there was an age in our imagination, coming up from underneath us like an arthritic storm warning—knees, hips, ribcage, those places where the clothes of our lives refused to fit, rising inevitably to our shoulders.
Gary Fincke’s latest book is The Infinity Room, which won the Wheelbarrow Books Prize for Established Poets (Michigan State, 2019). The Sorrows, a new collection of stories, will be published by Stephen F. Austin early in 2020.