The Day His Pink Slip Came

by Adam Tavel

He circled the chimney with paint cans
rusted from two summers’ pinging
attic leaks. Against my word he ran
three miles toward thunder to huff
beside the Hulls’ cornstalks drooping
in the downpour. After supper, Pauline
left her quilt fort long enough
to let us snag her dangling
incisor. When the lines from town
went dead and the house became
a cave of bumping candle-shades
I scrubbed her collar’s dribbled blood
with a soap sliver and the inch
of rain we caught. The whispered
thys in her bedside prayer rasped
at her proud new gap like leaves
blown through a graveyard gate.

ADAM TAVEL is the author of Plash & Levitation (University of Alaska Press, 2015), winner of the Permafrost Book Prize, and The Fawn Abyss (Salmon Poetry, 2016). You can find him online at