Let’s celebrate the hero on the floor
My father was a machine steel-cutter.
He would often arrive home with splinters,
sometimes as many as a deep dozen.
My mother would set-to with sewing needle,
and the blood would flow in bright seething drips,
followed by Band-Aids or wadded, taped cotton.
After one particular messy surgery,
she vowed with curt lip and tear in eye
that I should not follow my father’s footsteps,
that I should not work with hands but my head.
After college, I worked at book-selling,
yet that never bought much bread.
And then I worked as a college adjunct,
which brought in even less bread.
My father worked the grim night shift
because that brought in bonus pay.
I once tried that for a couple of months,
packing Disney figurines on conveyor belt,
while I held my pee until the next break.
That nightlife assembly line experience
helped me to understand a bit better
the dislocated world my father inhabited,
but it bought even less sleep and bread.
My favorite recollection of him:
his candid expression of amusement
when I read the Saturday Sports Pages
(with, I admit, limited comprehension)
to him when I was but insouciant five.
Also, wrestling with him on the floor,
being impaled by his scissoring legs,
while he muttered the challenge “stuck,” “stuck,” “stuck,”
as I now do the same with a grandson.
Those first few budding years of life imprint
the most important moments of our lives,
yet we often pretend that those charmed years
remain inaccessible miasma.
Today, let’s cheer those heroes on the floor:
Anteaus-like men who want to do more.