my father sprawled on the hard wood
floor of the master bedroom, fallen from
his scooter—as we called it, hoping names
could make things not what they were—and waiting
for us to return home grocery-laden.
I'm okay, he'd shout, and heavy bags of food
would drop. My mother's face. Could she run.
And he, always amused at the refrain
of our concern as if the strains of panic
weren't the dissonance of fear and anger,
proof that leaving home could be a danger.
My parents wrestled with such tasks—balance
lost and found with luck—but me, I simply etched
the record with new grooves. The needle sticks
sometimes; the clinging notes of home repeat:
my father's careless laugh; my mother's pounding feet.
This poem appears in the chapbook Halflives,
published in October 2005 by New Michigan Press. [buy]