In a Twilight Town – Caleb Barber

At these hours a girl shows me the scar
she earned after her father’s chainsaw
bucked against her calf while he evened
the backyard stumps. “It cut clear to my meat,”
she says. “They had to fly me to the city.”
The rough, shiny lump is not grotesque.
Her leg has grown around the wound
same as how trees will hatchet swings.

She still wears skirts, for now, because
her body won’t be a woman’s for a few
more years, and free magazine offers
don’t come this far out in the country.
The bald slice through one eyebrow is either
from barbed wire or dog. Could have
been her brother, before they sent him
to that school for boys just like him.

I’d like to hear about all those goldfish
that never survived through winter
on her parents’ porch. I’d like to know how
the couch felt when it froze through.
But the plane for the mail route is spinning on
and this place will always be her stop.
The night makes us all older, and just walking
toward it, she covers her thighs with the dark.

First published in The New Orleans Review

Posted in Blog.


  1. This certainly flows and is graphic, if occasionally surprising. I thought at first it was by Sue (hooray), and that Caleb was from the bad boys’ school, but it seems not.

  2. This poem is powerful. It leaves you open-mouthed, the audacity of her words, the inventiveness of her acceptance in the world and sly with the knowledge that we should take her as she is, or simply go away.

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