Dad’s Home

By | 12 March 2012

On a summer evening I’m ten,
my dad is just home from work,
sitting in his truck, engine off
and radio on, listening to
the last crackles of “Southern Man,”
which spins my mother in frenzies
with its crazy guitar and Neil Young’s
pitching vocals, a harsh affront
to her robed Baptist choirs.

From the front yard where I’m
catching baseballs with my brother,
I strain to hear the song crying
from the driver’s wing window,
pivoted wide, and I know Dad’s
resting his elbow atop the door,
head leaned back, wearing a t-shirt
with torn-off sleeves and the red
beginnings of a tan. His dark hair
is shot with sawdust and the sweat
of eight hours spent framing hemlock
2-by-4′s in a bowl of sun.

The music drops our baseball
and breaks with the static snap
of the radio and slamming
truck door. We ditch our mitts
and race for the smells of dinner,
banging screen doors, “Dad’s home”,
an announcement that hangs
like a warning above the sink
where we wash our hands
before fidgeting in our seats,
ignoring Mom’s nervous smile,
while he takes his place, scowling
at meatloaf and baked potatoes,
again this week. Then we all choke
down silence, thick as sour cream.

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