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They lived on the outskirts of somewhere,

they raised pigs and slaughtered them in the fall

and he sat beside the bed,

remembering his father.

On Saturdays the old man drank himself blind

and came home in the small hours,

whisky-mean, and roaring;

the room was scarred with holes

where the old man put his fist through to the drywall.

He sat beside the bed,

remembering a ginger-haired girl who never cried.

The old man was a gambler.

When he lost he'd give the boys a wink and say,

she'll make it good.

He sat beside the bed

remembering a day spent in a fever.

His mother there with chipped ice

and the old man, with a jealousy white as strychnine.

He sat beside the bed,

the smell of metal in the air;

golden leaves dropped from dark branches.

He sat beside the bed

where the old man used to sleep;

on the outskirts of somewhere,

they slaughter them in the fall.