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Bedtime Story 

Some nights, after work, he

comes home in a cab. Mom's

already asleep, so I get the door,

running back to my TV dinner,

before my sister can steal

my chocolate pudding.

We can hear him in the kitchen, shaking the can,

popping the top, and pouring it in a glass with one ice cube.

Drink in hand, he marches into the den, orders us

to turn off the tube, calls us to attention, and props

us on his legs. We glance at each other, the clock,

and back to our padded, stuffed animal feet.

Nightly, the same slack tie hangs from his neck,

flatfish bored by his stories. His button-down looks

like he slept in it. Sipping and slurping,

he clinks ice against glass, rifles through shirt pockets

for crinkled cellophane. Retrieving a yellow Bic,

from cavern pants pockets, he puffs away.

Disciples, we sit rapt for hours, until feet tingle

and shoulders slump. We've heard it all

before, but remain transfixed:

Working in a concrete factory, a shingle mill,

then fighting in Korea, he can't start a family

and save a company. We don't understand

why he makes us feel the plate in his leg.

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