Debts and Balances

Mornings I woke with the skyline in my eyes.
Beyond the window, the exhausts of industry
simulated the passing shadows of birds
who knew to head south, take it easy for a while.
Always too soon my father was yelling, “Get up,”
reminding me the day wasn’t getting any longer.
What did he know about the day?
Out of a job over three years, one wrist fused,
two slipped discs, he must have forgotten
what it meant to enter this world
of salt and sweat, the hand’s delicate assemblies.
In less than half an hour I was up and showering.
The bar of soap slippery, white, and I wondered
by what means grease was made to smell so clean.
I want to go back to the time of baths.
I want my father back—the shadow-stubble cheek
I kissed every blessed morning
before he carried off his thermos of coffee,
the lunch-pail of ham and Swiss on rye,
onion and garlic to keep up stamina, an apple
that couldn’t keep anything away.

:: Timothy Geiger, Blue Light Factory (1999)

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