Bradford Tice

Lament Sunburns
September 21, 2018 Tice Bradford

Lament: Sunburns

The worst I got on a tar roof, mid-July with a bottle
of baby oil and no sunscreen. The white rush
of an afternoon outlined by airline exhaust. Days later
I had Chris peel the skin off my back in sheets,
and it must have looked a butchery. An intimacy.
Others: lakeside, on a dock, the smell of smoke
hanging over the water, or the day spent hiking the Devil’s
Thumb, Chris and I steeped in our own salt, a day
I wanted to push through his pores to get to the heavier
alkalines underneath. That open-air concert
when I was seventeen, the music caught up in
the visible spangle. Yard work. Street fairs.
First time on the bald spot now large enough to be
vulnerable. When I die, I want for a moment to feel
light pass through me. The sear of it, sizzle,
then to push on through. Through a memory
of burning leaves, maggots and beetles taken
with the goldfinch’s breast, the exceptional smell
of pine, the lone needle caught in a single strand
of web, the gathering of dust about the house
as Chris, or another lover, or another, paces, rights
the frame, squares the earthen pot, takes dried
heads of marigolds between his fingers, reseeding.

Bradford Tice is the author of two books of poetry: Rare Earth (New Rivers Press, 2013), which was named the winner of the 2011 Many Voices Project and a 2014 Debut-litzer finalist, and What the Night Numbered (Trio House Press, 2015), winner of the 2014 Trio Award. His poetry and fiction have appeared in such periodicals as The Atlantic Monthly, North American Review, The American Scholar, Epoch, as well as in Best American Short Stories 2008. His poetry was also selected as the winner of Prairie Schooner’s 2009 Edward Stanley Award. He currently teaches at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln.