Only When His Father Died
Age Rating: 13 +
Only when his father died could he
Unfold himself in the embrace of men,
Unlike him, with whom to talk above mere whisper
Would make him spit the few words he knew:
Gravel of letters strung up with hate,
Gagged, coughed up, and feebly sealed
In the dry, crusted cracks of his face;
Friday nights alone, watching his dad's cronies
Crowned by garlands of smoke, drunk over poker or whist,
The kick out the door with a shove and a kiss.
It would take thirty years to become that child;
To start over as the child in the man;
To be willing at forty to parent himself,
Balancing broadly on two tender feet,
Sliding in spaces under the cracks
Where alchemy stirs without mortar and heat.
Only whose skin? Whose dusty clay is it,
Molded and fired in that darkest of kilns?
Your sponsor calls and you go out for coffee.