One Candle Now, Then Seven More

Brad Aaron Modlin

I grew up in a family that did not tell
the story. I am listening to it now:

Even the morning you see a robin
flattened on the street, you hear

another in a tree, the notes
they’ve taught each other, bird

before bird before we were born.
And elsewhere, the rusty bicycle

carries the doctor all the way
across an island. He arrives in time.

Somewhere his sister adds water
to the soup until payday. And

over the final hill in a Southwestern
desert, a gas station appears. No,

the grief has not forgotten my name,
but this morning I tied

my shoelaces. Outside I can force
a wave at every face who might

need it. We might
spin till we collapse, but we still

have a hub: Even at dusk,
the sun isn’t going anywhere.

We have lamps. The story insists
it just looks like there’s only

enough oil to last one night.


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Brad Aaron Modlin is the

Reynolds Endowed Chair of Creative Writing

at University of Nebraska at Kearney.

He holds an MFA & a PhD in creative writing.