I visit, maybe, once a month,
We still sit at opposite ends
of the table. Ice cracks
as warm soda pours, scrambles
cubes. We pass pot roast, mashed
potatoes, salt and pepper. Knives
scratch against forks, lips
smack. You think the Yankees
need more pitching. For once,
you might be right. Guidry
is getting old and Righetti
keeps letting late innings leads
disappear. You ask about work,
wonder when my next raise is due.
Mom says there’s plenty, goes
into the kitchen to refill
the serving dishes. You change
chairs, move closer to me. Elbows
on the table, one hand plays
with scattered crumbs. The other
picks up a napkin, squeezes it
into a small tight ball. Your throw
hits the kitchen wall, misses
the pail and falls to the floor.
You stop me from getting up, say
“They’re cutting back at work again,
This time it could be me. I’m fifty-two.
What the hell am I supposed to do.”
Jesse and Gillian, the daughter of my long
distance friend, both turned
eighteen in June. She’s decided to study history,
political science at Harvard.
Her mom already misses her. Jesse graduated his special
program. I watched the video
my ex girlfriend emailed a few times every morning
this week: Scenes of yoga poses,
his art exhibit at a local gallery, counselors, teachers
and students wishing him all the luck
in the world, saying how much they’ll miss him as he sat
on a low slung hammock and a Cat
Stevens song played. He’s spending the weekend at a Water
Park and he’ll start regular high school
this September with two workers shadowing him down
hallways, through classrooms.
At eighteen, I was lost and living in my parents’ basement,
fighting with my father, wondering
how many years I could kill in college before I was forced
to find a job I’d hate for the rest
of my life. I was happiest running full court and pitching
stickball at the schoolyard, listening
to Dylan, writing in spiral notebooks, trying to find the perfect
words to say to Julia Jordan, a place
in the world to belong. Like Jesse, like Gillian, like you. Day after
every damn lonely, blessed day.
Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of New York City and have managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 35 years. His work has appeared in Rattle, Chiron Review, New Ohio Review, Mudfish, Spillway and Main Street Rag. His full length books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press 2002) and Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015). His next book What Kind Of Man, will be published by NYQ Books in late 2018.