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The Lesson

I say goodnight, smile, walk out the door then sit on the hill

above, & facing my father’s house, smoke another

spliff & watch his, then my mother’s, windows go dim.

I believe that maybe in the streetlight which flickers & reflects

off the stop sign, at the plateaued road between us,

a flutter, a baseball card in a wheel, will conjure a former self

to slip from my old window, to walk here & sit with me awhile,

with his shoulder to my shoulder

as he takes a few drags, sighs then says, I’m going back home.

I wouldn’t say things gets better. I’d say, We learn to live,

that, human beings can get used to anything.

But he already knows this somewhere, though he’ll have to

throw bottles off rooftops, piss himself & sleep in the snow,

wake to his corruptible body & shame,

withdraw, close one hand around his father’s throat

like a nail you’d hang a mirror on, as the right hand hammers

the Sheetrock & his mother tries to calm him,

crying, blaming herself & holding her palms to her son’s cheeks

as he steps back, wipes his eyes until the Sheetrock damps

against his veins. He’ll have to walk

alone for years to thaw the ash & numb.

from Bicycle in A Ransacked City: An ElegyFind more by Andrés Cerpa at the library

Copyright © 2019 Andrés Cerpa
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Andrés Cerpa Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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