A Clinic

The man who must discard seven years of records

sits on a stool before the fireplace, poking wells in the burnable hours.

Names fold into themselves, numbers and acronyms

on some body that paid or didn’t; recovery, relapse, a knee

he remembers shaking gently like a snow globe

the fragments dividing like ash—all transfer to smoke and air.

First the papers burn hot, loud and crowded

then blue and thoughtful, a jazz score

then grey, something to stamp and deaden—is it possible to watch

words burn without wanting a philosophy?

As a child he made emptiness bright

at the campfires of his useless family

now he sits, not sentimental but in a celebration for which

there is no card. Seven years burn in seven days.

He made up a system, something about packing the firebox at night

and banking embers against the new day.



Merridawn Duckler lives and writes prose, poetry and plays in Portland, Oregon. Recent poetry has appeared in Naugatuck River Review, Cirque Journal, Right Hand Pointing, Agave, Sugar House Review, and forthcoming from TAB and Fifth Wednesday Journal. She was runner-up for the poetry residency at the Arizona Poetry Center. Her verse play was in the Emerging Female Playwright Festival Manhattan Shakespeare Project. Other plays in Nevada, New York, California, Washington, Oregon and Valdez, Alaska. Her awards and fellowships include: Writers@Work, NEA, Yaddo, Squaw Valley, SLS St. Petersburg, Russia, Norman Mailer Center, Southampton Poetry Conference with Billy Collins, others. Tweet her at MerridawnD.