I lie (down) as if the bed is more casket than mattress. As if the stillness of my body is symbolic of my psyche. A mournful soul evaluating the remnants of this marriage. I hug the edge because I don’t want to touch her. The mattress is a Posturepedic frown. My body forms one corner of the mouth; hers forms the other. No bodies rest in the middle, merely sham pillows that serve as show. It’s open and free, a queen-size fossil—pre-resentment. The mixing of skin and bone has become as foreign as our first kiss. I stay for the kids. She agrees that’s best. We still share a bed, but little else. She recently called my parents to wish them a happy 40th anniversary. My dad told her to just wait until she was celebrating the same. I look at other women and want to fuck them all. Not because it’s been half a year, but because every month I feel less like a man. I stopped ending my day with praying because I feel like a fake, unworthy of asking God for anything. Our vows are attic cobwebs no broom can reach. The dust is what’s left of our dreams. Each night, we drift farther away from one another. My left leg dangles off the bed in an act of surrender. She flips through late-night cable, pretending not to notice.
Father and Son at Starbucks
Dad sits at his table and I sit at mine. He drinks coffee, dark like rotting and I drink tea, more like fading. We wear casual attire in our unofficial office. Here, we are at home in our work. The scene is reminiscent of catch in the backyard. Only there is no game tomorrow to practice for and no cheering from the bleachers. He waits for his clients to meet him. I wait for the barista to call my name for a refill. I don't know if he had the stroke yet or if this is a dream lamenting the use of the left side of his body. A memory created to commemorate a patriarch's life of productivity in order to distract me from the unfamiliarity of seeming him so reliant on his family's hands. My mom lifts the spoon to his mouth and he grimaces as if chewing is a new experience. Like each bite is a breath he has to practice to take, with no guarantee he will ever master it ever again. I'm sitting beside an unused bedpan, so I know neither one of us is where we want to be. He squints and struggles to recognize me, and I, him. I tell him to close his eyes and rest and I do the same. The aroma of coffee has been replaced by the scent of sterilization. Wires and beeps lack the character of blenders so I squint hard as if it's a Monday morning. Dad and I are sitting at the same table. We read the paper like we did each morning before he dropped me off at school. We learn that last night our favorite ballplayer went two for four, and we understand that fifty/fifty are odds one can never take for granted.
We are loyal fans
who know the game of patience,
the length of bases.
Daniel Romo is the author of When Kerosene's Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014) and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). He is the Head Poetry Editor at Cease, Cows and Co-founder/Editor at Wherewithal. He lives in Long Beach, CA and at danielromo.net.
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