Brother,

I can still hear your voice
although decades have passed—
the baritone of a man
who is approaching fifteen.

Knees and knuckles numb,
you stand on the snowy bank
of the Shenango river,
pulling an angry muskrat
from an old steel trap.

Like a eucharist
you hold it up against
the Pennsylvania sky,
its only remaining paw
bleeding, almost severed,
dangling in the sun.

Blue-lipped and barely eight,
I shiver in the wind,
and almost weep for home.

“It made it all this way”—
you say—“on three raw bones,
and still defies its death,
just like we must the cold.”

by Leo Yankevich

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