Home Remedies – John Repp

The wish sleds off the cliff
at noon, hangs cartoon-high
over the creek. Meanwhile,
near Whistler’s Lake, we light
sparklers in the mud room
while a blizzard shrills down.
We do the kitchen dance,
fear a helium catch
in the throat, kerosene

fueling all the light. Food
equals a pot of peas,
cinnamon toast, powdered
milk shaken with snowmelt.
Nothing to do but play
cards & dolls & army,
sled tomorrow maybe,
fly over the frozen

creek, toboggan Uncle
Gus bought in Grayling, red
bow taped to the prow, three
at a time all day up
& down, till sleep the whoosh
humming in our legs. Soon,
the storm will stop, trains chuff,

cousins punch & giggle,
radio crackle, sun
blare off the drifts we’ll plunge
through & forget. When fevers
rise, as they often do,
out the witch hazel comes,

flannel rags, whatever
ointments worked the last time,
elixir of honey,
lemon juice & bourbon
sipped while a big hand cradles

the head not yet become
your head again. Waking
comes heavy, pajamas
wet with fever’s breaking.

Shiver in the scalding
tub, wobble clean & new
to a breakfast worked now

in the mouth that tastes morning
& hungry impossible

years later.

DSCF0119.JPGJohn Repp grew up near the Palace Depression in Vineland, New Jersey. His latest book is Fat Jersey Blues, published in 2014 by the University of Akron Press.