inheriting ghosts

— David Mucklow

      down on Horsetooth Reservoir the lights of a patrol boat and buoys
                    together in the pale of night I’m on my way
                        to get a beer with my brother

I realized today how much my father looks like his father
how much my brother looks like my father too
showing up in poems disguised as drunk old men
with wisdom measured by myths the wrinkles on their face
like a relief map of life’s weight the reservoir barely disguises
its surface with this last bit of sunlight on the clouds

                                   Sherman granite weathered a soft tan hiding grey in the night
                                                           the boats circle slow round the edge of the lake
                                                        before the lake a valley of sandstone broken into
                                             an anticline
                                                                  hogback from thrust-birth of mountains
                                             and there were buffalo here once much older ones
                                           buffalo bigger and bigger going back to the Pleistocene

                          there is a town buried under this reservoir that drowns
                                                              the same way maps show roads
              but avoid showing houses avoid showing
                                                all the people we’ve killed to be here

                                                                    many fathers have made lives here
                  a shallow ocean the father of sandstone subduction the father of
        orogeny the father of these mountains of schist and granite and gneiss
                                           fathers like these talk about weather and land but
                                                                                                      not themselves

in all those lights down the hill
people are breathing and I want to believe
we all belong here and are warm in our houses our jackets

but we’re all here erasing ourselves
                the way high above me
                   glaciers erased mountains
              into you-shaped valleys

                            the cold of the wind traces
                     the curves of my face against it
                  all the lives beneath it
pull the flannel around me tighter

Read more from Issue No. 17 or share on Twitter.