chewing gum

'Father_and_Son'_-_NARA_-_558871

I didn’t know how to tell time then

but every day I knew when

you came home from first shift

 

I was with mom all day

she needed to make dinner and sat me in front of the tv

to watch Sesame Street and Mister Rogers and Electric Company and Villa Allegre

like clockwork the villa appeared on the screen

with the accompanying chorus of la lala la la

as you pulled into the driveway in our pale green Continental

 

it was the same Oscar-the-Grouch green

as the Frigidaire

and the carpet

and the bathroom towels

and all of 1975

 

you walked in the backdoor

clomping in your work boots over a mud rug

you placed your lunch pail on the kitchen counter

queres comer?

 

I ran from the living room in time to see you exhale

you picked me up in your dirty arms

smelling of machinery oil

and cigarettes

and sweat

and a faded scent of Aqua Velva that was still stuck to your jowl

 

I nestled my forehead into your neck

you laughed trying to put me down

I grabbed your arms and pressed my face into your lips

 

you showed me your teeth

as you clenched your Wrigley’s chewing gum for me to see

I leaned in with my mouth like a little Robin pecking for a worm

you gave me your gum before you returned me to the floor

you had to shower before supper

 

a daily conversation between father and son

in a wordless ritual

I returned to my other ritual in front of the tv until supper

singing la lala la la

between my tongue and my chewing gum

 

 

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