My 10-year-old growls like B.B. King in a St. Louis
nightclub, vamps lyrics to made up favorites like Chicken Farts
& Coleslaw Has Treated Me Badly. I slap the faucet
shut, shout I love you, but please PLEASE STOP!
Which he does. For seconds, till being home &
done with schoolwork & his voice bubbling
up like a geyser is too much & he erupts
into the second verse of Chicken Farts, unsurprisingly
identical to the first. When my wife arrives,
she palms my flustered cheek, says You & I
never got to be kids; this is what safety sounds like.
Wreathed in remorse for how I’d spoken to him,
I apologize to my son & to the boy I never was—
cloistered beneath a spotlight of scripture & screaming.
My son tells me I’m a great dad, but I think
he deserves a father who knows what it’s like
to scramble the letterboxed screen & be loud
& childish. I wish I could shop on-line
for the kid I never was, have him left
at the door in two days’ time. In a cardboard box.
Bubble-wrapped & ready to open.