My father laughing over the morning paper
Where the written world fell open on the funnies,
Manic sports, stalled politics … and where
The Horoscope said, “now,” the Forecast, “sunny,”
He couldn’t laugh enough, so skipped a page,
Then another, till the back door shut,
An engine turned, and I woke up his age
In the mirror of a gray no scissors cut.
He backed out of his pulling in at night
As light elbowed past an opened door, failing
Down six empty steps. Now a wall-switch bites
Blue sparks before the neon’s billowing
Over another kitchen’s white-on-white
Enameling; and now the sun is up
And climbing through the windows to a height
I follow out and off beyond the steep
Fence and trees to where the sky cuts flat
And blank as the paper spread in front of him,
My father then, waiting till I’d padded in, pulled out
My chair, inched up, and yawned that he begin.
Nothing is as funny now as then.
Still, when they rumple in, they bring his eyes
And mine, squinting and wet with laughing
Over the cracked, cracked up, sidewise, unwise
Stories that I read to them, telling how
We bend, break, wires shorting, knotting and strange;
Never as the Horoscope’s predicted “now,”
But as the weather comes, fresh and ignorant of change.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 14 Number 1, on page 41
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