Friday, January 7, 2022

The Fort by Marie Howe

The Fort

It was a kind of igloo
made from branches and weeds, a dome
with an aboveground tunnel entrance
the boys crawled through on their knees,
and a campfire in the center
because smoke came out of a hole in the roof,
and we couldn’t go there. I
don’t even remember trying, not
inside. Although I remember
a deal we didn’t keep—so many
Dr Peppers which nobody drank,
and my brother standing outside it
like a chief: bare-chested, weary
from labor, proud, dignified,
and talking to us as if we could never
understand a thing he said because
he had made this thing and we had not,
and could not have done it, not
in a thousand years—true knowledge
and disdain when he looked at us.
For those weeks the boys didn’t chase us.
They busied themselves with patching
the fort and sweeping the dirt outside
the entrance, a village of boys
who had a house to clean, women
in magazines, cigarettes and soda and
the strange self-contained voices they used
to speak to each other with.
And we approached the clearing where
their fort was like deer in winter
hungry for any small thing—what
they had made without us.
We wanted to watch them live there.

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