I’ve made a study of
The smokers at the bus stop near the hospital,
Visitors, uneasy in street clothes, and patients
In gowns: It’s so easy to see what they want.
My father presents an object perhaps more salutary
For study. He fell ill in our finished basement.
When the princeling walked out into sunlight fourteen days
Later, my father renounced every life event previous
As wasted effort, walking away from suburbia,
Work and family, till he tasted Florida’s intercoastal.
I don’t know what my father wants. I chose smoke
Until I didn’t. I remember times when I couldn’t
Wait, bus trips, meetings. I’d like to ask him
The rewards of dailyness, how to open a door and trust
What walks through is enough. When I quit,
I lived for three days in a fog bank. At the end, I knew
I couldn’t go back, couldn’t feel that again. Look at my father,
Running seven miles from his front door to the beach;
His married neighbors bring him stuffed shells
and an invitation to swing. He transforms
The same as any con man. He couldn’t explain. It was easier
To study the smokers by the bus stop;
They’ve got as long as it takes for the next bus
To arrive. To ride someplace new or light
one cigarette off another and stay.
Matt Dube‘s poems have appeared in Interstice, Rattle, Minute Poetry, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing and American lit at a small mid-Missouri university, and he reads submissions for the online lit mag Craft.