a prose poem
Almost as soon as I get into the
night-lit bathroom on Saturday,
I hear the smallest knock one hears
in our house.
After my "Come in." (compliant
like his mother was as a child), he
enters, his hair a true sculptural
artifact of sleep. He never sleeps in long.
Running the hot water for my
shave, I watch him paste up his toothbrush.
Rather than "Good morning", he says
"I need cold."
Sighing, I switch from
hot to cold for him.
Just like I do, he sticks the pad
of his pinkie into the stream to
see if it's cooled to his liking.
Then it's back to hot for my shave.
And we're standing side by side
Y shaving, 1/2Y brushing.
When I thought about being a
father, I thought about feeding
and clothing, looking out for health,
teaching children right from wrong
and how the world works.
I didn't think much about
shaving cream and toothpaste
squeezed out simultaneously.
I didn't contemplate
competing demands for hot and cold water.
I didn't reckon with
a roommate thirty years my junior
sharing the sink.
While I help them learn how to live,
I also live with them.
And the lack of these
moments will make me miss
them when they have new roommates
in East Lansing or Lewisburg.
Quiet dinners and clean, orderly rooms
will make me miss them.
Already, when they're gone for just
a day, their mother and I mock-remind
each other of chores to do.
They are not there to remind.
How will we handle it when they're
not coming back to share our
5 days ago