Always Here

My father talks between emphysema gasps
about his high school days, the shot he made
to beat Hohenwald one night sixty years ago, the arc of it
high and too sharp but in it went with a kiss
from the top of the backboard. Now, just as gracefully,
he nods into his nap, his hands upturned, a lifetime
of hard work and still open and ready for more work.
He says he always liked this little ragged
town by the Buffalo River and that it was
as big as ancient Greece to him with just as much
going on—he never wanted to go anywhere else.
Served in Alaska in the world war,
saw Seattle, saw Anchorage, stayed overnight
in St. Louis on the layover flight back home
in 1945 and that was enough. Almost dark. His snore
is even and calm. Through the open window,
in the heavy summer evening, a catbird lights
on the backyard fence and sings the song
it always sings, the song of staying
in the same town all your life.

:: David Tucker, Late for Work (2006)

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