Kevin McIlvoy lives in Asheville, North Carolina. His first poetry manuscript, The River Scratch, includes poems that appear in Willow Springs, The Georgia Review, Scoundrel Time, Consequence, Your Impossible Voice, River Heron Review, Barzakh, The Night Heron Barks, JMWW, and other magazines. His novel, One Kind Favor, was published by WTAW Press in 2021; he has published seven other works of fiction.
In the garden
Jesus is walking my neighborhood like he always does and he looks me in the eye, moves within arm’s reach, says he needs me to drive him to his mother’s.
And I say I don’t have a car right now, and he says a sandwich would help him make the hard walk to her place she’s not well she could use a sandwich too and water you know.
And I say, I don’t know her or you, I’m not a sandwich man myself, you know – so: no.
He says he’s got nothing against finger food.
He says, D’you got pictures of your kids in your phone? – how many’ve you got?
No phone – car – kids? Let me guess. Three – and your oldest in his forties – like me – no pictures in your wallet?
See I’m sun-sick pain in my side headache bad feet hands hurt. This trip home ’ll be long if I can’t get a lift and with no water sandwich friendship I’ll be in bad shape when I see my poor mother.
She’s your age – seventy ’re thereabouts.
Got money to help her me us?
So – you ever see your future-self eye to eye in this garden? A long walk from there to here from then to now.
I lived for a while like you live – in a tale – I moved from place to place but where could I live – me and my mother – after we moved and moved and got moved?
D’you know that there ‘re people ‘ll put you in their story song sculpture your place in their gnome-garden and pay you nothing for your face?
Who knows all this? Who?
You had a mother? She had a car? ‘d she ever make you sandwiches pour you the cool water the real love the juice to live – you know – when you were thirsty? ‘d she clothe you school you clip your hair drive you safe everywhere you wanted?
Got one slice of bread one five-dollar bill? One spigot? – God knows you got one – and good for you.
Before I go could I drink from your garden hose?