By Matt Schultz
On the nights that he had worked past sundown
dad would park his tractor in our driveway.
The loose gravel popped under the weight of its tires
like fat dripping into an open spit; my brother and I
would knowingly spring from the dinner table
while mom pulled a plate from the oven and peeled
back the aluminum foil that clung to the mashed potatoes.
The break lights still shone against our neighbor’s garage
like the dull bake of a wildfire glowing through smoke and ash
as our fingers tucked into the deep treads of the tractor’s wheels.
We hauled our small bodies up onto the big machine and sat––
side-by-side––in the cool metal bowl of the operator’s seat
tugging at levers that refused to heed our commands. “Be careful,”
dad would suggest on his way to the house, but we couldn’t hear
him over the rumbling auger chewing holes into the Earth.
The moon glows mellow like a fogged headlamp
Matthew Schultz teaches creative writing at Vassar College. He is the author of two novels: On Coventry and We, The Wanted. His poems have recently appeared in Rust + Moth, Thrush, and Sledgehammer. Matt’s chapbook, Icaros, is forthcoming from ELJ Editions in May 2022.