he is thin as thread and grizzled as the flagstone sidewalk hes settin on. 35 and lucky to be alive, he preaches now to his brothers down by the river who are always sneaking slugs of colt forty five between their amens.
he absentmindedly traces his trackmarks, watches those wretched men wash themselves with water full of the sky's clouds. when they catch a hint of their staring reflection they slap the still water away, bring their hands to their whiskered faces to see if it really could be true, if the drinkin and whorin have really cut lines deep as oak bark across their sunspotted skin.
they ask him for soap, for lye, for lotion. he just shrugs, spits.
'them stains dont wash off. youre jus gonna have to answer to yer tally one of these days.'
each looks down his clothes, noticing the traces of gray that stay now after scrubbing, after bleach, even after stealing new ones from walmart: the cotton is spotless for a moment but
something telling always seems to seep through.