This is how it starts. You learn to break the wood over your knee. You learn to burn it by yourself, burn it with your own unblemished skin. It is October. Our fathers are sitting in the bleachers, squinting at the field, not knowing what they’re looking at, looking for the children who’ve erased in us. The blur mixed with the shadows is a kind of game, a game of outlasting. The scoreboard doesn’t change. They do not rise up. The shadow of a tree branch the exact size of your old body stretches all the way across the field. No one claps because no one is there. They’ve been home all along, drinking in their favorite armchairs. They’ve spent all day staring into the side of a knife.
Corey Zeller is the author of Man vs. Sky (YesYes Books, 2013) and You and Other Pieces (Civil Coping Mechanisms, forthcoming). His work has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Mid-American Review, Indiana Review, The Colorado Review, The Kenyon Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Diagram, Salt Hill, West Branch, Third Coast, The Paris-American, The Rumpus, and PEN America, among others. He currently works in crisis support at a facility for children and adolescents with mental and behavioral issues.