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spring cleaning

we burn the winter away in the bottom half of an oil drum, cut up the tree that took out our garage in the last nor’eastern, neat quarter-circles with a chainsaw we borrowed from a neighbor.

dad drinks budweiser in his khaki shorts and steelers hat as he kindles the fire, and i shovel the green brush into the barrel and then fall back when the smoke plumes up charcoal black—each piece of nature

is a different color in its state of decay, and i never knew that before. dad and i drink like we have been doing it for years. i am home for spring break, and he looks at me like a grown up.

i look at him, and he has new crows feet and a receding hairline, but his eyes are small and watery when he smiles wide, like he always does, and he tell me stories, like how he met my mother

in a pizza shop in 1986 and fell in love with her when they drove to the buzzards bay waterfront in that jaguar he bought to look cool. i cut his hair in the kitchen while the fire dies down outside

and when i’m done, i pull the cape off him and watch as all the gray fringe litters the floor. he pats one large, wrinkled hand on mine as a thank you, and reminds me

that he used to cut my hair in the very same chair. we are both getting older, but we are still making fires, telling stories. i finish my beer and he says, pour us another.

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