Year After Year

 

Of course you may go out but you must know

when I alone lay down our son, full of formula and promise

I instinctively envision single-parenthood while I sing him

“Wish You Were Here” for the hundredth night.

 

When I was seventeen I envisioned that anthem

sound-tracking my painless, accidental death

featuring my cuckolding crush weeping over my body,

as Pink Floyd synced the monitor, and up the camera went.

 

I am thirty-one and you are thirty-one. In the nursery,

our son maws gibberish in the dark. The female cat

who you correctly identify as my cat, whinges.

Oh wife, come home to me, and spoon my nervous hinges.

Having completed the development quiz on my first sober 4:20 in 13 years

 

Doctor I was mistaken

my son is looking for a hidden toy.

His head dug in a bin while I clear the room,

he has no interest in tumbling from the chesterfield.

 

There was no question whether he claps and though

he’s yet to stack he does (this is new!) tenderly

put things aside. Doctor,

does this matter?

 

I must end here—

he has the xylophone’s baton

and may choke and die any moment.

You don’t steer a train

 

1.

 

Because your baby is a hummingbird your hands are camcorder. In the nursery you study them: one reads REC, the other today’s date 16/04/10. Your son won’t stop announcing ballgames, and the players keep updating their wills. The call goes to machine: It’s your mother; she dug another feeder from the attic.

 

2.

 

A couple of wheelbarrow approach with their toddling luggage. They tip their trays and spill a little recognition. You and your partners’ pull-tab noses grin apart your Frisky tin lips. As your child flutters from mouth to mouth, theirs springs its handle and screams out its flight tags, “I wanna go in the trunk! I wanna be packed forever!” The baby-book cools in the fridge.

 

3.

 

Again, you pace towards the window. The fish chum stains paint a trail towards the crumpling society of ants. You remember.

Only one in 10 eligible fathers was claiming parental leave benefits through Employment Insurance

 

The man and woman next to me are done picking at their fries.

The woman has an exposed knee and the man has long hair

(like me).

 

I order a burger and fries, excited by this rare chance to dine alone.

The sexy couple get up in their coats and go psst, psst, psst.

A weed breeze is let in.

 

I am entitled to all the ginger ale I want so long as I never leave

for any reason other than to smoke. All I have to do is ask for more.

The waiter has a cord.

 

My burger and fries come and both are good. A friend out west

texts to say I would be proud of him because he is pushing buttons

at the federal NDP convention in Edmonton.

 

As a white, Jewish, able-bodied, cis-gendered, middle-class man,

I often feel like the character bit by a zombie screaming

SHOOT ME.

 

I am picking at my fries, but my waiter will not ask, “Are you done,

or are you still picking?” I will have put everything on my plate

in a way I read you should.