Early morning I toast between kitchen
counter and cast-iron stove. My eyes sink
into the chimney hole’s orange glow.
Pale flames wrapped like cellophane
around the black rock meteorite of coal.
Heat lavished upon my thighs in chill
February rain, misting kittens, furry rain,
my mother-in-law calls it, kneeing
the washing machine onto the balcony
where it can drain. Between the stovetop’s
cavern and the counter’s aluminum trim,
I slump the way he did when he harkened
to an earthen jar in morning murk
after his second or third hospitalization.
His wife hid plastic jugs amid crates
and mops out the balcony window.
I must admit I snuck a sip now and again,
wanting to know what it felt like
to be him, the man who was my father-in-law.
Even now I have no idea.
Cameron Morse has been published in numerous magazines, including New Letters, South Dakota Review, TYPO, and Bridge Eight. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His second, Father Me Again, is available from Spartan Press. Coming Home with Cancer is coming out this summer in Blue Lyra Press’s Delphi Poetry Series.