I Didn’t Disappear

after Jim Harrison

There is a god of small thunder
in my chest, pounding commandments:
whiskey, birds, women, feed the strays.
His appetite grows as I watch
Manitou twins or breakers
in Grand Traverse. He reminds me
blood is still red without air and Escanaba
is a decent drive if you’ve been drinking.
I listen to him hungry mornings, walking
Michigan dawns, sleeves of ash
tipping the arm of my cigarette. The dog
bark of newspaper hits my screen door
like a bad decade. When I was younger,
the winds of Montana, the winds
of Grayling, tore pages from my hair.
One-hundred miles into the future
I still die in a field of baled hay, longing
to have seen Livingston one last time.

Take me back:
Leelanau, west arm of northern Bay,
Big Sky where graves are horses
with no tack on a farm by a windmill that slows
to the good eye. I didn’t disappear;
I switched to fiction, better weather.
My body became a flower
in the fist of a thick book. Find me
the mouth of a river. I am loose gravel,
a road tracing a mountain onto night.
The afterlife, two currents against each other.
The god has stopped; I am still
a climber of fences, a traveler
stepping forward, a salmon
killing itself to get back.

Cameron McGill is a second-year MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Idaho and the poetry editor of the journal Fugue. He is originally from Champaign, IL, though spent many years working as a musician in Chicago. He received his BA in Political Science from the University of Illinois. He is the recipient of a Silver Creek writer’s residency, a scholarship to the New York State Summer Writers Institute, and a University of Idaho Centrum Fellowship. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry East, Measure, Aesthetica, and Grist, where his work was recently selected as runner-up in the 2016 ProForma contest.

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