How It Will Always Seem

Last night in Fall River in Lafayette Park,
Near a dilapidated tin tot-slide, and after
He'd snorted angel dust, my friend wanted to swing
At me with a two-by-four. Both of us sweating

Like crazy. For one brief moment, on that glass-
Wracked playground asphalt, a transitory
Instant, it seemed something--pure, engaging--
Which he despised on sight and wanted to smash,

Had revealed itself. But, look, it was really
Just two girls in cut-offs and halter tops.
They'd drunk and flirted with us all night.
Not visions, holy or demonic, even with other-worldly

And soulful tans. They had those bleached
Shag-cuts easy to make fun of, easy for me anyway.
Who knows what I said. But they took off,
And he got pissed. I don't care what he saw.

I down my cornflakes this morning, stare
At puffy red roses on the kitchen wallpaper.
Can't find my gloves, and meanwhile I'm late
For punch-in at the dye plant. So, outside,

I pretend at first I don't hear my father call
From his pickup. Road grit, bugs on the windshield.
On the dash, a crumpled race form: what's left
Of win-or-else shouts as three-year-olds hit

The wire at Suffolk Downs: a scream to be lifted clear,
Now. Nothing, I tell him, leaning on the truck door,
When he asks what I did last night. When what
He means is what are you trying to prove, pal?

And smarten-up. This is how it will always seem to me.
As if a father always knows when his son lies,
And the son lies because he's sure of nothing
But the fact he's headed toward a factory,

Not even noticing why work is noisy and lonely
As the inside of a skull, or what drifts down
Into your blood from convoluted piping
Around fabric vats, or why that river flows

Past the plant, until, reaching the sea twenty miles
Down, near a sand bar, it loses itself,
Now, while the beach haze starts to burn off.
While the day, swallow-delighting, already

Humid, shimmers like a smudged, heavy coin.

:: David Rivard, Torque (Pittsburgh, 1988)

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