The Television on the Curb

The boy across the way takes everything I put out on the curb. So far,
he has taken horse-head bookends, iron garden gates, a lazy Susan,
old brown drinking glasses. Eventually, he will take the television.
What the old television broadcasts is a deep sky gray. Or, maybe, the sky
is television screen gray. The night is flat-screen black, but the days in autumn
in Vermont are older, and more convex. A girl would paint her fingernails
this color to look apathetic. Storm-cloud gray, with hint of foreboding.
The fingernails would be the same as her eyes. She will not be one of the kids
who dies on Route 2 in a car, doing something stupid, but she will smolder.
The television says she will likely maintain a wreath on a cross on Route 2
where one of her friends has died. The boy across the way will take almost
anything I put out on the curb. I think about the girl, and putting her
out there, but she does not really exist, and the boy will not know what
to do with her, her malaise, her grief, her eyes. He will lay her on a roll of
mural paper and draw her outline, her hands too big and her feet like clown feet.
He will not know what to do next with the television girl, so he will do
what he learned in school. He will make cut-outs of her organs, and paint them
with paints that smell like leaf-rot, and paste them to her body. He will make
her heart like a heart, though, like a perfect bi-fold valentine. He will fail
heart-making, like later in life he will fail map-making. He will fail to make
her heart as it should be, shaped like an insect. He will fail to give it
an exoskeleton, but he will connect it properly to everything else. He will run
string veins everywhere. He will end by running them back and forth across
the street, to the river, to my house and his. He will cry and cry when she dies,
will shake her paper shape in his arms until it sounds like a man walking briskly
through fallen leaves, a woman shaking out laundry to hang, a woman crushing
newspaper for starting a fire, quickly, because the house is cold. Oh, my love,
he will say until he sounds like a man saying oh my love—tiny, pixilated,
the horizontal hold gone, the small boxed world rolling up and up like eyes rolling
back in sleep, losing signal, until he sounds like a man disappeared in snow.


Kerrin McCadden is the author of Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes, winner of the 2015 Vermont Book Award and the 2013 New Issues Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation Writing Award, as well as support from the Vermont Arts Council and the Vermont Arts Endowment Fund. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, Verse Daily, American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and other journals. A graduate of The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, she teaches English and Creative Writing at Montpelier High School. She lives in Montpelier, Vermont.