Roy Bentley: “Boat in the Attic”


In a photograph in The Columbus Dispatch
the second floor gapes like a summer storm
had deconstructed the lake house, the front,

exposing a white-hulled 14-footer on ropes.
His sister said he figured when it was time
he intended to ungable an end of the house

and make use of pulleys. She and I went up
when her brother wasn’t there. We were 11
and in the same grade at grammar school.

She stumble-kicked his Dewalt miter saw,
made a ruckus. After which he showed up
and shouted something loud about Sisters

and ordered her out, saying it wasn’t safe.
Solvent smells were everywhere. Empties
and shop rags swam in flashlight beams.

And we imagined the thudding hammers
and waves of sound going out to the lake:
hours of sawing and the episodic banging.

We saw the monstrosity he couldn’t hide:
we’re talking big as a Studebaker without
the mast. I recall a headline: Local Man’s

Mind Comes Unroped from Its Moorings.
And I remember those eleven-year-olds
who stepped fast, having seen how a life

can get out of hand: one abortive turning
at the stairwell and crowbars are pulling
long 10-penny nails like impacted teeth.

Roy Bentley is the author of Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama Press), Any One Man (Bottom Dog Books), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine Press), and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House Press). A new book, Walking with Eve in the Loved City, has been selected by Billy Collins as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams poetry prize and will be out in the spring of 2018 from the University of Arkansas Press. Work from that collection has appeared in Shenandoah, Pleiades, Rattle, Blackbird, Southern Review, and elsewhere.

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