William J. Neumire The 2River View, 7.2 (Winter 2003)


I knew as he tilted his bristled face
Toward my cheek what would happen—
I knew that it was Saturday, and work

Had been left in its tinny resonance—echoes
Of metal banging against metal—
That all week he’d hardly slept,

That the floor collected unswept
Dust like forest nettles, the insistent
Sun reddening the sediment as it fell.

I knew that there was no time
For shaving, that some things went on
Like those jagged hairs—half protruding

Like a rock’s tip from the thawed
September earth. I knew he would rub
His tangled half-beard against my face

Just to hear me laugh in the few hours
We had together, that I would struggle
To get away when the laughter made it hard to breathe

That I would, years later, after a summer
Of Saturdays, struggle away completely—
My own ringing laugh bouncing off walls

Far from home, my father gone, and I
Would turn back in the pointless dark
To tell him to do it again,
If he still could.

CoverPrevious PoemNext Poem 2River