The night before the barn-raising
It was the night before the barn-raising and our son told us that he wasn’t going to be participating. He no longer believed, he told us. I asked him if he meant that he didn’t believe in barns, and I pointed impatiently to the wall and a print of a lovely old barn in DeKalb County. It wasn’t like that, he said. He no longer believed in community, in cooperation. And I said oh, wasn’t that convenient for him to give up on community just when the Flowerdews needed his help with their barn. And I asked if he didn’t remember when Mrs Flowerdew bought a subscription to Pigeon Fancy Magazine when he was fundraising for his school choir trip to Paraguay. And I asked if he thought that Mrs Flowerdew gave an everloving faff about pigeons. The woman is allergic to birds. Allergic. She did it to help him, and I said that I shouldn’t wonder that she’d do it again even if he’d become a thankless heartbreak to his dear mother and a disappointment to the town and a threat to a cohesive society. He said he was sorry but that’s just how it was, and we needed to respect his beliefs, and he was going outside to get some air and he hoped we’d understand some day. So I told his little sister to wait ten minutes then go upstairs and cut all his shoelaces with the kitchen scissors.
Erik Kennedy (US/NZ) is the author of There's No Place Like the Internet in Springtime (VUP, 2018), and he is co-editing a book of climate change poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific forthcoming from Auckland University Press in 2021. His poems, stories, and criticism have recently been published in places like FENCE, Hobart, Maudlin House, Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, the TLS, and Western Humanities Review. Originally from New Jersey, he lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.