Thomas’s short, musical poems make stops in the terrains of childhood, difficult and somewhat violent, and middle life, with parents breaking down, and children moving away into their own lives, and later life when memory falters but passion does not.
My brother set fire to a field
my sister and I were sitting in—
first smoke, then spreading flames.
I saw the smoke, pulled her
to her feet, started to run.
She was little, slow.
Just as I decided to aim for the woods
the trucks came. We ran
around the burning circle.
They sprayed floods on the hay
until the field was bare, smoldering.
When we reached the house,
the men were looking for hot spots.
My sister’s face was red. My father
yanked my brother’s arm,
shoved the side of his head as he sat
on an old stump, staring
at his blackened fingertips.