_ _ Out back. Behind the house. A place for the lawn mower or long planks you might need some day. A place to cool off, the ratty old recliner letting you sink in. Your magazines swell and throw spores from turned pages. Put in a little stove and you can ride out the winter want-tos. In some, things have been done that God should have prevented. Some have saved marriages. Small mammals sleep in their underpinnings and black snakes hunt their reserves. I have seen their tin roofs catch light and become radiantly blank the way the sun erases the figures from the panels of an altarpiece every day at a certain time.
Michael Chitwood has published four books of poetry. The most recent, Gospel Road Going, was awarded the Roanoke-Chowan Prize for the best book by a North Carolinian. His work has appeared in Poetry, The Threepenny Review, The New Republic, Field, The Georgia Review, and numerous journals. (updated 2005)