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What I Mean When I Say Truck Driver

During the last 50 miles back from haul & some

months past my 15th birthday, my father fishes

a stuffed polar bear from a Salvation Army

gift-bin, labeled Boys: 6-10. I can almost see him

approach the decision: cold, a little hungry, not enough

money in his pocket for coffee. He worries

he might fall asleep behind the wheel as his giant,

clumsy love for that small word—son—guides

his gaze to the crudely-sewn fabric of the miniature bear

down at the bottom of the barrel. Seasons have flared

& gone out with little change in his fear of stopping

for too long in any city, where he knows the addict

in him waits, patient as a desert bloom. Meanwhile, me:

his eldest child, the uneasy guardian of the house.

In his absence, I’ve not yet lost my virginity,

but I’ve had fist-fights with grown men & seen

my mother dragging her religious beliefs to the bitter

border of divorce. For years my father’s had trouble

saying no to crack-cocaine & women flowered in cheap

summer dresses. Watch his face as he arrives at last

& stretches the toy out, my mother fixed

on the porch behind me, the word son suddenly heavy

in my father’s mouth, his gray coat gathered

around his shoulders: he’s never looked so small.

We could crush him—we hug him instead.

from Revising the StormFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2014
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Geffrey Davis Poems

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