Joseph Sr., ca. 1812
In the spring he sows hope,
but come fall he reaps only the empty wind—
so all through the long Vermont winter,
there’s a bottle in his hand.
He drinks like Noah—to drown
a flood’s worth of sorrows,
drinks until he staggers to and fro
as earth itself will in the end.
This is how I understand that story where his son,
infection arching through the bone,
turns down the surgeon’s offer of anesthetizing liquor.
“I don’t need that,” the boy says to his father,
“I just need you.”