Stage Directions for Wearing my Father’s Boots

Poetry / Brennan Bestwick

[ The stove prattles in the corner of the room. Watch the man enter, a flannel jacket over his shoulders. His beard full of snow. His eyes tired. Always this tired and so small. He breathes too heavy for his size. There is mud tracked through the house, the footprints loud and startling. Retrace his steps, imagine your feet growing to fit the shape. The man clears his throat of its labored silence. His ghost is built before it’s given his name. When he feeds the fire, do not ask how the winter chews at his slender frame, if the ax could be more forgiving. Needles of cedar fall from the man’s gloves to the hearth. Stack them in rows. There is no gift greater than fire. Do not yet ask the man if he is too quiet for mercy. The question follows you across the stage, sometimes in the shape of the man, sometimes as silence. Slide into the man’s boots beside the door. You will stumble. ]

Brennan Bestwick is a reader and writer from the Flint Hills of Kansas. His poems have been published in THRUSH, Winter Tangerine, The Colorado Review, and others. He is the winner of a 2016 AWP Intro Journals Project Award.