On a Thursday Afternoon of His Life

By Michael Chitwood

my brother-in-law wrote a letter he never mailed.
In it he explained what a dog smells when it smells fear.
He described what he saw when he saw blue.
He mentioned a moment that afternoon:
he was alone in the house,
somewhere not too far off was the rumble of heavy equipment,
then he heard his name pronounced by a familiar voice he’d never heard before.
He gave two options for how things would turn out
and wrote “one or the other.”

He noticed how “or the” was almost “other.”
He mentioned that in the next line of the letter.
Why am I telling you this he wondered next.
He said Friday was his favorite evening, in the fall, the team just taking
the field.
He knew he would not mail the letter but wrote it out long hand with the
pen he kept by the phone for taking messages.
The letter will be found years from now in the back of a drawer that
contains a hinge and a set of brass keys to doors that are long gone or I
should say now always open.
The closing was hood something, the last word smudged,
good luck? goodbye? good something, good.

Michael Chitwood’s poetry collections include From Whence (Louisiana State University Press, 2007), and Spill (Tupelo Press, 2007), which was a finalist for ForeWord magazine’s poetry book of the year and which won the 2008 Roanoke-Chowan Prize. Tupelo Press published his book Poor-Mouth Jubilee in 2010. He is a freelance writer and teaches at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Originally appeared in NOR 8.

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