Brief History

Dave Nielsen

Now it is time for the brief history
of the day my uncle's turkey shed burned down.
I remember walking through the wet
debris after the fire, corrugated metal

and scorched carcasses, and stepping
on a nail—a rusty, gnarled,
fire-scalded nail that slipped through
the sole of my old tennis shoes

like a pin through a pear.
That same morning my uncle's horse
gave birth standing in a creek
and the colt drowned. Though I was young,

I knew many things, how to turn a charred
glove into a bird, for example.
Also the long narrow leaves of the willow
into a blaze of white butterflies.