Developing Story
Peter Makuck

Developing Story

From the hillside framed in his window
he looks back to the keyboard,
this young father at his alcove desk.
His wife is off shopping in town, his son
napping downstairs, the house quiet.
Everything forgotten but those mountains

he has never seen and that imagined
back-country skier, alone, in the deep
drifting snow, struggling to be found . . .

until the house-quiet turns up
its uneasy volume and hurries him down
to the bedroom, the bed rumpled and

empty. He yells the small boy’s name
to the dining room, living room, bath, and
kitchen—all empty, the screen door open.

Jesus, please begins another story
in this hill country pulsing with cicadas,
pulling everything from his mind

but the barn and sheds that are empty,
this tall grass he should have mowed
a month ago, tall enough to hide a . . . .

Shouting, he’s now a character, his own,
the whole story unimaginably real.
He yells again then tells himself to listen.

The empty fields rage with cicadas. No one
to help on this remote hilltop chosen
to help him toward all the right words.

He runs down the slope toward a forgotten
dump site, past a pile of rattlesnake rubble,
and the windbreak poplars are jogging

toward him with news: the boy’s there,
amid cans and broken bottles by a fridge
with a wide-open door and black sealing lips.

Soaked and breathless, eyes stinging,
he now feels the weight of more
than a son riding high on his shoulders.

The crickets are scolding him back
to a different house, the boy laughing,
kicking, and yelling “Giddy up!”

Wind suddenly starts in the treetops
and he thinks: blond boy, empty bed, cicadas,
lethal fridge
—new details beginning to emerge.

Peter Makuck

is a two-time winner of the annual Brockman-Campbell Award for best book by a North Carolinian and is the author of Long Lens: New & Selected Poems (BOA Editions). His poems have previously appeared in Southern Poetry Review as well as The Hudson Review, Poetry, and The Sewanee Review, among others. His sixth collection of poems, Mandatory Evacuation, is forthcoming in 2016. He founded and edited Tar River Poetry from 1978 to 2006, when he retired from East Carolina University as Distinguished Professor Emeritus.