Thomas Brush

The Shrew


I found him dead
In a cold corner of the garden, between the rock
Wall and the spring that never goes completely
Dry, his small hands soft as a child’s lost gloves, his blind eyes
Closed to the wet earth he came from where I returned
Him with only two turns
Of the shovel. Now, in this quiet house,
While my wife and son sleep and wind brushes the cold
Floor of dawn, with the year nearly gone, I wonder
How we got this far and why
Our fathers pitched their tents under the old threats
Of storms and floods, cut sod to make roofs, outlasted
The winter, dug deep for water in summer and stayed
Alive so far from here. And why the stars still cross
The crooked sky and why the fox flashing in the fairy tale returns
To me tonight like the dreaming face of the shrew and the narrow tunnels
He must have made, here, with the first month of winter buried
In leaves and rain and waiting for snow to fall again
Like the light of that small heart that just went out,
And the larger one that pauses and then goes on
Of its own accord, waiting for the first slight song
To rise from the blue edge of the world, greeting the New Year with love
And hope because our fathers came for the dream that wouldn’t leave
Them, put candles in the greased paper
Windows of those first houses so the lost could come home,
And prayed for the dead because they were.


“The Shrew” is reprinted from Last Night (Lynx House Press, 2012), winner of the Blue Lynx Prize.


Thomas Brush’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review, Mid-American Review, Crazyhorse, North American Review, and many other journals and anthologies.  The quality of this work has been acknowledged by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Artist Trust, and the Washington State Arts Commission. He lives in Seattle.

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