From Night-Eater, published by Quattro Books in 2012.
This evening the swabbies are out on the deck, swabbing its speckled gray surface: mold, bird shit, a fine layer of grit. They are canceling each other out, their feet are bare. What mysteries slip through the swabbies’ minds—plop— like turtles into a pond? The stories they tell stretch as far as the koi can see. The continents they travel lead through the gazebo and over the bridge. What should we call them— Swabbies of Life? Swabbies of Death? Engrossed in swabbing, they don’t see the ruby-throated hummingbird drop faster than sorrow. Sometimes the swabbies lose their mantras among the river stones. Sometimes they kick small fires out the back door. They are hopeless and useless and want another drink. Oh, these barefoot swabbies, they are too much trouble and tears, too many nerve endings. Imagine a swabbie’s joy as she goes about her business in rolled-up jeans, hair in curlers. As she pushes broom and soapsuds across a vinyl surface. Imagine an island draped in green, nozzle turned to jet. An hour ago the deck was a sheet of dirty winter ice but now it’s a summer of cattails and millet puffs, it’s seven reclining chairs. Swabbies, swabbies! Put down your mops and lift up your eyes. Can you see the stars climbing into the night? Can you see the ghost-dog padding across the horizon— whoosh— like a blue-eyed wind?