An Uncle in Ohio by David Salner

An Uncle in Ohio

I’m browsing a bookcase in the attic in Ohio, where
for sixty years, my uncle slept. It’s a library for a night-shift guy:
page-turners like Mickey Spillane; year after year of Ellery Queen;

and a magazine of the outdoor life. On the cover, a fisherman,
his rod bent double, stands thigh-deep in a mountain stream.
Also, a shelf of self-enlightenment—Will Durant on philosophy

and an earmarked copy of Fromm, The Art of Love.
On the table by the bed, the headshot of a dark-eyed woman,
my Aunt Jean. She lived with him in this remodeled attic,

hot as blazes, then left. They were lovers, on and off, until his death.
On the facing wall, the painting of a woman—not a pinup, exactly,
but what is she doing there, waving from a fishing dock?

In the background, vague shapes, possibly yachts. Did it remind him
of his vacations to the Florida Keys? If so, he’d wear an aloha shirt—
there are several in the dresser—and meet her for drinks.

After vacations, he returned to Aunt Jean, night shift, and these books,
which can be mine—all of them—since I’m the next of kin.
I might grab a few, I’m also a night-shift guy. But the painting on the wall

better stay where it is. Let someone else
disturb the attic where my uncle dreamed.


David Salner’s debut novel is A Place to Hide (Apprentice House, 2021) and his fourth poetry collection is The Stillness of Certain Valleys (Broadstone Books, 2019). He worked as iron ore miner, steelworker, machinist, and now librarian. His writing has appeared in Threepenny Review and Ploughshares. Innisfree Poetry Journal 33 featured a retrospective of 25 poems drawn from his four books.

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