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Matthew Wimberley

Field Recordings

Fourteen degrees at ten
in the morning—the sun
up without a cloud and the air
like fiberglass. In the small rock
of wind the birds spread
like a rumor into the air, illiterate
and so, the note left on a window
of a deserted Honda after
the snowstorm is meaningless
—scattered as any memory
until you try to walk up to it
and take a closer look. You still
wonder what it’s like to live
without regret—to wake to
a sky full of monarchs
to not notice the grin of ice
up the road and live well
into old age despite
the habits you’ve picked up;
the time you slept with a stranger
who was gone by morning,
the dark falling on her shoulders
as she went away—the lock of the door
clicking. It’s too late.
You imagine remorse and shame
live together in a shack
beside a creek where the water is always
frozen just thick enough to trust in
or else they’ve split a one room
apartment, where the sirens
echo up the alleyway and the rain
pools in the creases of garbage bags
left out to be collected
by the city. Everywhere you go
they’ve claimed squatter’s rights in the foreclosed
homes of your life. They argue a little
but mostly keep each other company.
In other Carolinas gone forever in the quick beating
of wings and mist covering the windshields
the ice crusted over the glass,
you are just waiting
while some guys from Mountain Electric
climb a power pole
near the end of your driveway

to fix some downed cable
frayed as breath
while your daughter
tilts her head back to howl
at a scrap of moon. You think
she has found out some truth
anxious in the field, disguised
as emptied trees and the gold shells
of old grasses and you roll
your chapped lips together
and notice how they stick
like the mechanical sweep
of a second hand. We stare out
together—one ridge I
can return to. Her breathing is soft
as the flurry of snow outside
coming down from the branches
and the threads in the laundry left
by accident to dry on a clothesline—
and I can almost make out
a hum of forever just over it
—a sky gone to collect itself before
a nervous introduction.

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