First published in Third Wednesday Vol. XI, No. 3 http://thirdwednesday.org/

Detour

In the end, where you go is not
where you wanted to be, your lane
rerouted, no choice but to follow
the coned curves furthering you
away from the bridge arcing ahead,
flaring over deep water, ships lumbering
their goods to port. You try the exit going east
then another going south, threads crossing
in a knot that cannot be untangled.
Your son starts to cry. So instead of
the place with the crayons and chicken piccata,
the one you both love to the point of ritual,
you stop at a battered metal cart on the side
of a road plumed with dust and buy hot dogs.
And because your hunger is so great, it satisfies.

***

Grandpa’s Love Language Is Warnings

Grey-smudged newspaper clippings
arrive in envelopes, my address
written in shaky letters, listing
which fish are highest in mercury,
telling me all the chickens have cancer,
how sugar is addictive as cocaine
and the caramel lodged in the roof
of my mouth will lead to diabetes.

All the visits of my childhood, he kept
Vitamin C tablets in a baggie in his
trouser pocket, slipping me one as a treat,
the chalky sweet-sour puckering,
watering my mouth.

After twenty years of deep sighs
and pronouncements he didn’t
have much longer to live, he lies
in a hospital bed eating ice cream,
wondering why it is taking him so long
to die. Why his body has dragged him
all the way to ninety-five. When I say,
I guess it was all that healthy living,
his hand pauses on its upward path
and he blinks.

I hadn’t thought of that, he says,
then lips the last sweet bite of vanilla
off the little wooden spoon.

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