3 A.M. Kitchen: My Father Talking

For years it was land working me, oil fields,
cotton fields, then I got some land. I
worked it. Them days you could just about
make a living. I was logging.

Then I sent to Missouri. Momma
come out. We got married.
We got some kids. Five kids.
That kept us going.

We bought some land near the water.
It was cheap then. The water
was right there. You just looked out
the window. It never left the window.

I bought a boat. Fourteen footer.
There was fish out there then.
You remember, we used to catch
six, eight fish, clean them right
out in the yard. I could of fished to China.

I quit the woods. One day just
walked out, took off my corks, said that’s
it. I went to the docks.
I was driving winch. You had to watch
to see nothing fell out of the sling. If
you killed somebody you’d
never forget it. All
those years I was just working
I was on edge, every day. Just working.

You kids. I could tell you
a lot. But I won’t.
It’s winter. I play a lot of cards
down at the tavern. Your mother.
I have to think of excuses
to get out of the house. You’re
wasting your time, she says. You’re wasting
your money.

You don’t have no idea, Threasie.
I run out of things
to work for. Hell, why shouldn’t I
play cards? Threasie,
some days now I just don’t know.

:: Tess Gallagher, Amplitude: New & Selected Poems (1987)

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