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The Brush Draggers

by Thomas D. Reynolds

I was five.
We were just setting down to supper
when his body filled up the door,
breath coming in fevered coughs,
hammered knocks shattering dusk.

our eighty-five year old neighbor,
seating now at the table,
between gulps of water,
warned us about the brush draggers.

At nine,
walking into the kitchen
for a last glass of milk before bed,
he saw the first one
dragging a limb through the back door.

A gaunt little man (or boy)
no taller than this knees
gripping the fork of an oak limb,
scraping the sides against the cabinet
and muttering obscenities.
  Behind him,
equally sullen and evil-tempered,
a line of dwarf-like men or elves
pulling brush across the carpet,
through the rooms and out the front.

No matter
if we chalked them up to senility
or too many pills, or not enough,
and circled the tables with knowing looks,
secure in our own senses.

I told myself as I watched his breath
expelled in spasmodic gasps,
fist pounding the solid table —
that's what they were, to him.

Copyright © 2005 by Thomas D. Reynolds

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