by Alan MacKellar

Sycamore on Parker’s Mill Road

……The beauty of the tree lies in its trunk and
branches, whitish and dappled withgray-green
and tan. Wharton and Barbour,
Trees & Shrubs of Kentucky,
University Press of Kentucky, KY, 1973.

What part of me knows?
The rime of your eyes
must have told me.
I’d brought you a PC
a fucking computer,
for god’s sake,
a trigger at your head. Then
I say, Why don’t you take
some art, some more
dancing classes?

Last year you had it all, I think;
pride of NC School of the Arts,
when Amanda asks you to choose
between me and Stephen,
you choose nine hundred miles,
a motel in Ft. Lauderdale,
a failed slash of wrists.
A week, eight days, no money
you call for help. We choose
an eighteen day miracle
cure at Charter Ridge.
You’re twenty-one,
your folder confidential.

I wear sunglasses
in a darkened room.
Hey, Wimbledon’s
on this weekend,
I say, come on over.
I think you smile.
Count on me, Dad.

At ninety miles an hour
on the loneliest stretch
of Parker’s Mill Road,
your radio turned full volume,
do you hear that last song?

This time you take
no chances, line yourself
with the broadest tree,
feel the bullet recoil against
your hand then course
through your head, before
the whites of the sycamore,
dappled with gray-green
and tan, turn red.
-First published in Wind