Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby


Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum is the author of Ghost Gear, a finalist for the Miller Williams Prize in poetry from the University of Arkansas Press. He is also the editor of Apocalypse Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days, the Floodgate Poetry Series, and A Nashville native, he teaches writing in Denver, Colorado.


What do I know of God but that each winter
I thank him for it? No spider webs
snagged in the bluestem, no horseflies at rest
in blossoming cones of henbit, no slug trails penned
to the cooled hoods of cars. We are creatures all,
stillborn to the language of split pine rails
standing in their pickets, ice glazed to bone
in every rut, the stealth tracks of jays a sleepless
ideography in the snow. But we are not
entirely alone between the mountain ranges,
in these hours condemned to darkness
before the sun gyres open the face of February
and the red flare of Mars grows dim.
Just outside my door, the burr oak is wintered
full of grackles- hundreds of coin-
eyed scuttles ornamenting its branches. Here,
my breath plumes gray. In the distance,
brush catches fire. The wind, if you watch,
is calligraphy; the stars in winter,
a weightlessness. The grackles are doors,
rasping their flight plans limb to limb.
The grackles are doors, some limned with light,
others black. Rising, my arms have long
been open. Stepping across these thresholds,
I step across these thresholds. Singing, I sing.