POETRY requires a mature audience ENTER only if you are 18+
Dinner with Conversation
My son sits across the shiny teak table
framed by his three friends, their two pairs
of parents and me. We spin the lazy susan
as he makes his way through appetizers
of wrapped pork and shrimp and fowl,
picks smalltalk, then slips me his latest
calling card: superscripted italics prop up
his name embossed at Menlo Park. A manboy
with his mane tied back for me, he charges
dinner conversation with a tale,
says I should've seen the performance,
a bald barber clipping hair to industrial rap,
six rings piercing his lower lip. He asks me,
in a polite restraint, about my trip to Mexico.
I ramble about beaches, sundown with good tequilla,
then step up the pace in beetling jabber, call up
his old playing field where ringbilled doves flew in
off course to the diamond edged in shards
of broken glass and schoolgirls' squeals at winter
in the wrong nest. Still biting,
he says he never did like baseball or birds.
Someone says they heard in the park a pitbull battling boar
ate crackers from an officer's hand. He laughs a retort,
"just another urban legend of an exotic-pet-run-wild."
I tell him I read somewhere that Indians believe
vanishing trees are reborn as unwanted children.
He snaps back, "even ones recycled in dumpsters at K-Mart?"
Someone else asks if fans follow my poetry readings.
I do not answer. I want to scream that nights I lie
awake now with ritual blood in double time, fertility
haywire out of season, everywhere everything else struggling
to green. Instead, I watch my son across the widening table
sit shovelbent over my main course, biohazardous waste symbol
swelling his shirt. Tomorrow he'll fly back to Berkeley,
where I say I want to be, where he warns swat teams
stand watch at People's Park in a broken promise
traded for a volleyball court. I spin
the susan, pretend to eat, move grains of unspiced rice
about my plate, pass by seconds at the chance
at one snapshot with him arm in arm, not crying out loud
before smiling red-eyed at the U-Haul packed for California,
not laughing long on that Latin beach that stretched up
from Madagalpa, not caught in quiet of a new sun breaking dawn,
just posed here in the conditioned air at the restaurant table,
before he runs to catch time with old friends,
before I walk off begging him to call, walk off
clutching the pang in my stomach, walk hungry into night
and quickly down the narrowing street to my car alone.
POETRYREPAIRS 11.12: 136