Rebecca Cook

The Little Engine
May 13, 2012 Cook Rebecca

The Little Engine


He is not an engine that could. Busted up, broken and backward, call him “fucked-up,”
call him “brother,” unrecognizable lump, clawed his way out and into a chuf chuf
chuffing up the hill, inching his way along, a worm between your fingers, feelers in the
air. Can I go this way, that way? No way. See how his eyes are akimbo? Now hold them
trembling above the pot of water. They only said two hundred and twelve, but we
watched, and waited, how we waited, blue flames licking upward and then, that crash
in the living room, that falling through, what Daddy always said about funerals, that
they couldn’t fit all those people in the house and even now he remembers his hands
curling around the wadded Kleenex. Oh sure, she’s dead and that should have been the
end to his demons, but it never stops there because he is not a present participle, his feet
are backwards, glued on after the thought. She told me he was born without eyebrows,
without fingernails, pink, seven-and-a-half pound baby, fist in his mouth, eyes sealed
shut like a whelp, a slick pup pulled too soon from the water, not enough steam, what
Daddy always said–If only that boy could get a full head of steam, finally chug up the
hill. But that was the wrong night, the wrong way through the woods. It was ten o’clock
in the morning when we found him, half-assed and hung from a tree, and just look
what trying gets you.

Rebecca Cook’s new manuscript, I Will Not Give Over was a finalist for the Alice James Books’ Beatrice Hawley Award for 2012. Her chapbook of poems, The Terrible Baby, is available from Dancing Girl Press, and her novel, Click, is forthcoming from Kitsune Books in 2013.