Woods Again

by Max McDonough Issue: Fall 2016 Special Issue on Forests
Already late, miles away, we find an abandoned couch
camouflaged by dead leaves, and my little brother

belly-flops onto it, lies there babbling at me
as the leaves shiver in the wind running

and tree trunks dim to silhouettes seeming taller
now, faceless with bark. A woodpecker

invisible somewhere in the branches
drumming like regret. My brother’s saying not yet,

but I’m saying we’ve got to go or the light
will strand us, saying It’s getting colder. I’ll make you

a snack. I’m saying c’mon, stupid,
gutterslut, scrub, c’mon, saying so many things I forget

what I’ve already said and say them again. Just
a little longer, he says, burying his face

in the cushion’s cracked gray above the ground rattling
leaf shreds, the dirt darkening

blacker black. I can’t go back there,
he might’ve said—but by then I’d already left.


Max McDonough

Max McDonough is a Creative Writing Fellow at Vanderbilt University. His work appears in Gulf Coast, The Adroit Journal, Meridian, CutBank, and elsewhere.