The grey morning chill has set in,
and we bear it, hugging ourselves close.
I’m bundled like an Eskimo but Joseph,
he’s wearing just a thin sweatshirt
and his cocky, thirteen-year-old pride.
“Buh-bye, son, I love ya,” Robert says to the slamming door.
He says it self-consciously, as quietly as he can bear to,
like he’s afraid every day his voice will fade quieter
until he’ll become incapable of saying it at all.
“Someday God’s got’ta have some reward for me,” he says,
stroking nervously at his sweat-shined and linear forehead
from beneath his thick wire-framed glasses
and the mumble-out of his disbelieving descriptions.
Something tells me he didn’t get to sleep today.
“Some rest is what I need,” I hear him say definitively,
like it was the only thing he knew for sure.
Joseph dictated the messages from his mother,
off again with her first husband and his credit-card
(now that she’s depleted Robert’s).
She sips him through the funnel of Joseph’s mind,
manipulated like everyone else in her path, with smiles and cash.
He jumps up and wraps his legs around his dad’s small frame
and rubs his knuckles into the thinning hair at the peak of his skull.
“I best be getting to work,” he says, chasing the boy away
The same way the sun will chase him home in the morning.
He fends off another playful sucker punch wrestling move
And sits down to heave on each boot, before he heads to the door.
“See you tomorrow,” he says, and walks out into the cold.
A bitter, brittle draft follows him, the way the past always tends to.