I am carrying a boy who fell asleep in the car
upstairs. This isn’t in itself unusual—nothing
in itself is. I could be rushing downstairs
in another house cradling a Yorkshire Terrier,
but that’s not how things have worked out.
The boy isn’t mine—though for the moment
I guess he is. He’s big for six. I need to grip
him tight. He has wooly hair and dark
alert eyes when he’s awake. He can’t stand girls
and likes a little of his mother’s pink
polish on his toes. Earlier, at the rest stop,
he and his brother played Rock, Paper, Scissors,
only it was Rock, Paper, Scissors, Black Hole!
which they cried, crashing into each other,
or Rock, Paper, Scissors, Supernova! or Atom Bomb!
whatever disaster they could think up
to trump all previous disasters, though nothing
to match their father collapsed dead on the back deck
in his barbecue apron, or them being whisked
from the sight, as John Kennedy’s children
undoubtedly were, by some wise and quick-
thinking soul, perhaps to a room upstairs—these
stairs I’m walking up now, three years later
with a boy sleeping deeply. If you’ve never
done what I am doing and get the opportunity,
I would recommend it. You might find
you’ve never stepped quite so purposefully,
as though climbing out of life’s trouble
into a cloud realm, and laying down
a body that could be anyone’s.