Midwestern Shed, Box of Miscellany

Something tells me the meaning
to a life is here. Not my own but close
enough to brush up with resolution.
Somewhere in this flexed lung, dust-choked,
an artifact hidden in the museum of another’s
epidemic. So I scrimmage old spider webs,
collide with grandfathered timber bowing like
a monk. The search continues, predicament dizzies,
dust motes start drawing lines in the dirt floor.
I expected as much when I arrived, and so use my
pocketed drawbridges to suture the gap. As soon
as I’m across I mistake phlegm-dried cashews for
teeth plucked from a scrapbook. I move slow now,
in the red zone where danger is in relocating someone’s
leftovers: the catalogue of rusty wrenches still hanging from
their nails, an obelisk bolt threatening a bare foot,
a shriveled moth in the center of a boot print.
         Something tells me to close my eyes, call this tiger
pace home, call this swollen hive in my belly ache.
But this expedition began with a dishonest map, and
I swore the day I was born I’d see it complete. Not even
the slants of vesper light faking my own stripes keep me from
prowling down to the last plank, thinned with termites,
where clues are the shape of shed snakeskin. Wanting only
to know what I mean when I say the name “Chief,” the title “Origin”
written now on the ceiling in that last predator ribbon of dusk,
“Anonymous History."

Ethan Phibbs is a poet born in central Illinois. His verse has appeared in Off the Coast, Heartwood Literary Magazine, Unbroken Journal, Eunoia Review, and elsewhere.