Bio: Nick Courtright, the Executive Editor of Atmosphere Press, is the author of the forthcoming The Forgotten World (2021, Gold Wake), as well as the collections Let There Be Light and Punchline. His work has appeared in The Harvard Review, Kenyon Review, and The Southern Review, among dozens of others. Find him at atmospherepress.com, nickcourtright.com, and watching birds on his porch in Austin, Texas.
Sick Child as Hailstorm
There is nothing like a sick kid The boiling furnace of a small body The sweat of it Pathetic like lightning Whose thunder you can’t hear A little mystery of love The child’s hands reaching out The cup of chicken noodle shaking When the child is like this My love is too much to bear The hail hits the lawn It rips through the trees Every surface of nature is pummeled It is like a coyote A coyote carrying a rabbit I can’t hear the thunder I can only hear what is breaking I put a cold cloth on the child’s forehead There is no reconciling The sacred with the self The profound paling Beneath this fever this child The hail piles up It is piling up on all our bodies It is too much to bear This love
The Next Generation
If the child says I am bored I say do you want the hatchet Of course the child wants the hatchet The child says where is it You can find it in the garage I say I will not help you find it It is in the dark place of the garage Look for the dark place and there you will find the hatchet It is with the spiders Go where the spiders are I say And then a miracle occurs This is the miracle The hatchet glinting its glint in the noontime sun The child learns to use it He uses it well He wields it like a dream of peace between the factions of stubborn nations And this is how I show my love My love is too large All night and all day I think of love I think of the child my child In the backyard standing Next to the tree that used to be our Christmas tree I see him there And in his hand his strong small strong weak child’s hand Raised high The hatchet