Dad’s Shadow

On workdays he’d get up,
worn as the mattress’s springs,
and put on his dad face.
I’d sometimes see him through the cracks
lit around the door frame,
as if a shadow of himself was leaving
with each creak of the morning stairs.

He descended that way for years,
as did my mother with his parting kiss.
As kids we were just bikes,
video games, and splashing in the rain;
as kids we were just bikes,
go-carts, and the revving engines of boys,
as kids we were just bikes,
schoolwork, and the becoming of men,
but even then I could see him fade
off into the distance, a memory
of what was his before the kids
and the taking of coffee to wake.

The weekends were his,
or so the company had said.
There was always something that needed fixed,
and this was truly his:
the broken draws and banisters,
petering cars held by just his thread,
and the dead puller on the lawn mower
giving reason for a series of expletives.

For him it was worth it
all, for his kids were his reasons
and the only thing that made sense,
so he worked that job hard
even when they took his pension.

Life should not be the descending of stairs
or the omitting of yourself in bits,
or the bit by bit collapse of it
to life spent double-bent backwards for rent
or the pursuit of raising kids,
beat down to the most basic of its ends
the circular logic of life
lived for the time when you will get to live
and take that mythical vacation’s joy
and cease with all the fire within:
a moment to get to know your lil’ boys.

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