Care – A Poem by Mark Barthman


Submitted by Michael Barthman

There’s nowhere to turn around up here.
you park sideways in a stranger’s driveway
naming stars with a few friends from town.
no one drives by. headlights deliver the road.
you come to a Stop—you don’t make a Stop.
when spring finally begins uncoiling herself
rain is how the lake takes part in our lives.
ice floats on streamers of Wednesday dawn
flowering in ripples the wind tickles into her.
whorls of grass sprinkling the end of the yard
hold onto the gentle shape of a hungry nose
attached to a fawn, skinny for a weird winter
pitched off kilter by melts undone by snowfall.
you find a river behind the house. you hurry.
you try to scare up things to look forward to
the way everyone else does. you yell BINGO!
the way everyone else does. the wind doesn’t
blow the flag another direction for a month.
the lines you cross aren’t always detectable.
on one side, the oogey-boogies can get you.
on the other, the trees gather at the water.
sick pines stagger catawampus among them
with no voices. the day can’t get at the earth
under them. up the road, the dirt chases itself
down into a gulley. birches broke at the ankle
spill after each other. you hurry. the footprints

stay behind you.

About the Poet

Michael Barthman is a Wisconsin native. He has worked in kitchens, carpet cleaning vans, and emergency rooms. He drummed for band Gazillion. He received a B.A. in English from the University of Minnesota and an M.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He continues his training at the Brown Department of Emergency Medicine. His work has appeared in Paper Darts and Ivory Tower. He lives in Rhode Island with his wife, Kathryn.

Painting: Konstantin Korovin – Creek

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