Wednesday, September 10, 2014


 He left home every morning
a stranger in crisp fatigues blousing 
over boots polished like glass. 
Hugs wrinkled ruin into his day’s fresh start. 
Stepping on his shine was not allowed. 
Mom’s perfunctory kiss -- necessarily chaste -- 
religiously kept 
his starched uniform in shape.
 Anything warmer might
mess him up or make him late. 

 I dreaded the interval between 
his homecoming and the symbolic 
shedding of his soiled shirt. But the saving
scent of his thin, soft undershirt 
 proved him safely familiar 
and mine once again. 

 My messy need for contact
shed my shyness faster than 
his race to bust open the brass 
buckle on his olive drab belt, 
loosen the top button on his pants,
 and lay his scuffed boots aside. 

All in one motion 
he relaxed against the couch, 
offered his arm for a step, hoisted 
me onto his shoulders and proffered
his black pocket comb. 

 I welcomed the whisker burn 
on my legs dangling tangled 
around his neck.

His hair had enough 
pomade left to stay put
 in exotic or comic styles
 I slowly groomed in, 
 and combed quickly out.

By the time rhythmic purring 
came from his sagging 
throat and heavy head --
 tyranny returned. 
I scolded him to wake up, 
to straighten his neck
so I could put the final flourish
on the glistening masterpiece. 
His black curls became 
a conduit translating love
 through hungry, 
interpretive hands.