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Phillip Border

I still miss the heat of burning brush in that hot spring of 2003 beside my stepfather and his constantly churning chainsaw. We tore through whole acres of black cherry trees on my grandfather’s property, reducing them into the long logs I lugged and flipped into the smoldering flames consuming the green earth of the land. 


There, we started to build the foundations of our new house upon the remaining ash; a house that took years to call home, but that still stands as a symbol of what a man and a boy can do under the relentless rays of a hard sun. 


I still revel over those twelve-hour days with pride because I was not yet a teen and already felt like a man. Each time my callused hands scraped the surface of my burnt face, swiping the stinging sweat from my eyes—I was godly. And the cold ones, which were Cokes, and all we ever had on breaks, greeted my lips like the full-bodied ales do now, after the day’s work is done. 


It was only during those moments, cracking our last cold one, after we had labored up to his definition of work, my stepfather would place his right, worn hand firmly upon my shoulder, and keep it there, as if to say something he did not know how to say with words, which was thank you, son. Such was his love. 



Phillip Border received his BA in Literature from Frostburg State University, where he served as chief editor for Bittersweet Literary Magazine. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Carlow University, where he served as the inaugural emcee for Carlow’s MFA Alumni Reading Series, Raising Our Voices. His published works have appeared in The Amistad, Coal Hill Review, BackBone Mountain Review, Rigorous, Wingless Dreamer, and other journals. He is the two-time recipient of The Allegany Arts Council award for best poetry.

Image Credit: Emma Grey Rose, "Childhood"

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