From Issue 20: Catastrophe

Benjamin Harnett

We talk about the wreckage, a hillside of trees stacked
the saws have been buzzing and snarling for weeks.
Trees come down like great knuckle cracks.
Another development with “river views.”
A catastrophe. There have been others:
the election, something wrong with the fridge,
your Gran passing.

We are heading into a catastrophe of clouds;
some storm kicked up over Lake Ontario
or Erie. A dead tree is weathered into bone;
some cars flicker, a procession of candles
parallel the train; red-and-green running lights,
a single tractor trailer against the green base
of the mountain. So that’s night,

I dream we are together, though we will meet
somewhere below the Middle West. Past midnight
in Ohio, the carriage fills with Amish,
moonlight hollows their faces, but they smile,
read magazines. We pronounce it
with such overweening, personal pride,
“catastrophe.”

It is only the turning point, the last unwinding.
Of the barren hillside, I regret only the no more
deer at dusk, frozen in my passing.
Mule-eared and white muzzle shining, I could run
my hand along its bristle-furred back.
Life goes on. The longer we have,
the more we lack.

 

Benjamin Harnett is a historian, fiction writer, poet, and digital engineer. His works have appeared recently in Pithead Chapel, Brooklyn Quarterly, Moon City Review, and Tahoma Literary Review. He holds an MA in Classics from Columbia University and in 2005 co-founded the fashion brand Hayden-Harnett. He lives in Beacon, NY with his wife Toni and their pets. He can be found most days on Twitter.com: @benharnett. He works for The New York Times.