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The Tool Shed by Kasey Jueds

The Tool Shed

by Kasey Jueds

published in Superstition Review

How can I explain the way

I kept coming back—to that box

of trapped shadows with its concrete

floor, its constant chill even

on the most blazing August days. To

the stacked cans of paint with their stuck-shut lids

like the eyes of animals burrowed

in the farthest reach of forest. To the locked-in

air trembling, dense with the chemicals

that fumed from ancient bottles of pesticides & herbicides

lining the cinderblock walls, exhaling their pure

dream of destruction into the unbending

dim. Inside that room that was never

a room, I offered my clavicles, my soft heels

pale as milkweed silk, to the trowels, the shears

dulled with rust. It wasn’t enough. And after,

outside, released into heat and the bright net

the barn swallows kept threading with their flight, the warped door

finally pulled shut behind me—even then that smell

stung my throat, my lungs, lingered in the hollows of me

like a shame I could never tell. And

after, years after, when we’d paid a man to haul

the poisons away, their scent still cleaved to corners, thrashed

its wings against the false dusk like an angel

unable to speak of the next world, weaving

her impossible life between the broken

croquet mallets, the rope strands of the hammock

meant to bear our bodies above the clamor

of summer grass. There is no away. Now, I want to say

come back there with me, though every time I stepped

into that place I was alone. And every time, the angel

receded into air so thick it could almost

claim a color. She was old and I

was young still, and still I knew

how she would cling there, how I’d

never see her, how she would never

let me go, even as I tugged the swollen door

back again into its frame, as I struggled

to make it fit, to return

the perfect darkness to itself.

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