Sympathy


Not a man,
but how close
I’d thought I was
at sixteen,
when my cousin
turned to me
to finish his thought,
stopping the truck
in his garage—
I’m just saying,
I know what it’s like.

Then the double-
clicked seat belts,
small windows
letting in a pale
Oregon sun
onto the cement floor,
the everywhere-motes
of carpentry projects.
We paused among
styrofoamed Thai food.
In the house,
his wife and son
waited for us.
I never really knew
my dad.

This was new,
unwanted accord,
and I became aware
of the dusted light
in which he saw me.
In another decade,
my dad mimed
his golf swing
in the kitchen,
harbored
in the shelter
of his reticence—
later, my mom
would know
his golfing
as a front
for cheating. Sympathy
loomed like a yoke.
The engine clicked
itself to sleep. 
Like a calf kicking,
I grabbed up
the warm plastic bags.
To this man
who was stepping
suddenly out
of the shade,
I said, Yeah?
because it was
as little as I could.