By Anders Carlson-Wee
Featured Art: Hudson Valley, New York in Winter by Frederic Edwin Church
The volunteer staff at Saint Vincent de Paul
made too many sandwiches, expecting more.
When the drunk Indian came in from the winter
wearing some kind of neck-warmer pulled up
over his nose, they were able to give him
three for now and seven in a Ziploc bag. He sat down
at a fold-out table by himself and began eating
all of them. The icicles in his wild eyebrows
melted slowly. He mumbled orders as he chewed,
demanding bacon and a woman. From his pocket
he unfolded a photo of heck horses and held it up
whenever someone dared to look at him.
Partway through the meal he overheated
and took off most of his clothes. There was a hole
in his neck clearly made by a bullet, and made
recently. The rush of blood should never have clotted,
but it had. Maybe from the unbearable cold.
When the cop showed up he knocked back his hood
and pulled off his gloves to rub his nose.
He asked the staff if anyone had come in wearing
a ski mask. They shook their heads in unison
and kept shaking as the officer described the rough
features of the drunk Indian sitting by himself
with a hole in his neck eating sandwiches.
Anders Carlson-Wee is the author of The Low Passions (W.W. Norton, 2019), a New York Public Library Book Group Selection. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, BuzzFeed, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many other publications. The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, he is the winner of the 2017 Poetry International Prize. Anders is represented by Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents. http://www.anderscarlsonwee.com
Originally published in Issue 19.