Michael Hammerle is pursuing his MFA at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, where he teaches composition. He holds a BA in English from the University of Florida. He is the founder of Middle House Review. His fiction has been published in The Best Small Fictions 2017, selected by Amy Hempel. His prose and poetry have been published in Split Lip Magazine, New World Writing, Louisiana Literature, After the Pause, and many more magazines. He lives and writes in Gainesville, FL.
Don’t judge anyone
by the shirt. On their back
could be the weight
of their family’s well
Don’t judge anyone by
the cuts on their
which leans because their dogs
have dug a cave
under one corner,
a man had kneeled
next to his crisscross-sitting wife.
squeezed its way through
a thin glass window.
The vibration carried
a well-child’s cry
and found its intendant
between the pool and the leaning shed.
A man held
his enduring wife’s
and she said Don’t
in the bathroom.
In the lap of her dress
was braided grass.
She had quilled
a small circle bare
had not seen
a clay flip-flop key chain in the dirt
The man fixated on the flip-flop
and imagined when it was modeling clay:
carved by a daycare worker,
or an exceptional child,
captured the child’s will.
The man imagined if he held the keychain,
when it was freshly calcined,
his thumb could brush the words
(it was so real) those little ridges
like lizard teeth,
on a Medieval crown,
and straddled the outline of a well-child’s words.
He brought buckets of pool water to their door.
The time: night rain. The grass was gauze
tied tight in a bag next to an empty pail.
Hurricane bands beating, like a tuning fork,
on the side of a hot house in need of power.