Friday, February 1, 2008

Childhood's End

It was 4:35 on Saturday afternoon,
"Dinner" Mom cried, "time to put away your toys!"
But someone had to get Dad 'cause he wasn't back yet from the gas
So my sister Mary and I do the dirty work,
Mary because she can drive and me 'cause she doesn't want to go alone.
She is mad, feeling put upon
"Why do I have to do this shit?" she asks rhetorically,
she knows the answer - she can drive, mom cannot.
Mom needs to watch the supper, protect it, nurture it
keep it from catching cold, save it from burning.
Someone needs to be home in case HE comes back .
Mother must be that someone.
So we drive somewhere
maybe its the tavern
maybe its his girlfriend's apartment
maybe its the police station
Nowhere this ten year old wants to be.
Nowhere this ten year old hasn't been.
"How damn long does it take to get gas?" Another rhetorical question.
"I mean, hell, it's been four and a half hours. Does she really believe
it takes 4 and 1/2 hours to get gas." I don't answer.
I am hoping that he will have a story -
Something with spies and secret agents,
Something that cleans the ugly obvious,
Just like on TV.
I go alone
Into the bar
And I see him through the smoke, he laughs -
his place, his bar buddies, his other woman
(without a warning word, my perspective shatters)
And as I clear my head of childish illusions,
a new world appears
One in which,
I lead this middle aging drunk man out the door,
And I know it is time to put my toys away.

Frank Coughlin April 2006

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