My father clangs through the kitchen screen door
with his discolored Coleman cooler and thermos. He washes his face
at the sink, rubs county water along his temples
with a crocheted dishrag, last night’s saucepan still soaking.
I open the lunchbox – six empties, half a tomato sandwich, green beans
bobbling in their butter-water juice – and he tells me
he forgot his welding jacket today. He smiles and points
to the new singe beside his Navy tattoo
that I always thought looked like a well-scaled fish.
Wiping the backs of his hands against his thighs, darkening
his grease-stained khakis, he pours Old Grand-Dad over ice
in the glass I use for milk with my pancakes
and follows with a Schlitz, slicking his whitened hair back
to put his red White’s Travel Center hat precisely on.
Well, I best get to it.
He scuffs the linoleum of the kitchen floor,
pulls out the chair from the dinner table and arranges
his ashtray at arm length, fisting glass and can between puffs.