The Family Waits
They hear his muffler first
– pop-pop-pop-pop-pop –
faint through the screen door
that he’ll walk through in a minute,
then louder as his Plymouth
turns the corner. They picture him
passing the Merkel twins in
the fire hydrant’s gush,
passing Mrs. Lee out on her stoop
with her glass of “iced tea,”
passing Bobby Mac as he paces
up and down the sidewalk,
talking to his shadow
and avoiding the cracks.
Louder and louder that rapid fire grows
– pop-Pop-Pop-POP-POP – until it
Then the driver’s door creaks open,
and the air shifts to give him room.
They can tell, it’s a bad day.
He doesn’t shower first to wash off
the stink of sweat and tar,
to quench his muscles’ burning flares.
Instead, he marches straight to
the kitchen table, his eyes fixed hard
on its scarred maple top.
He sits down at the table’s head,
waits for his sons to take their seats,
for their now-quiet mother to lay out the meal,
the plates and platters not quite full.
When she sits, he folds his hands,
each knuckle popping like a white flag,
and begins – O Lord –
his voice low, his head bowed,
his fingers locked tight
as if strangling something,
or holding on for dear life.
First appeared in Naugatuck River Review
In addition to writing narrative poetry, Rich Youmans enjoys exploring the Japanese forms of haiku and haibun; a forthcoming collection of haibun, All the Windows Lit, was a 2015 Snapshot Press eChapbook Award winner. He and his wife, Belle, live on Cape Cod.