A Man, A Desk & What’s Gone

A man sits at his desk.

There are papers filled with words
strewn across the wooden surface.
They are not typed, but written by hand.
It only works if they’re written by hand.
It was something he discovered accidentally
when he was ten and writing a report
about dinosaurs.
He woke up sweating with a scar on his back
he couldn’t explain away.

Since then he has flown.
He has breathed under water,
searching for Atlantis.
Knocked space dust off his boots.

There were other stories —
expensive cars.
Big houses, the kind on TV.
He’s sure he’s killed more trees
than he cares to think about,
but he’s been Indiana Jones twelve times,
and it never got old.
It was just the boy in him.
But boys grow up,
and they begin to lose things.

He writes about his mother —
the soft curl of her red hair.
The way she used to peel apples.
He keeps putting together the one afternoon
she taught him how to waltz in the dining room.
He had been sixteen and stepped on her feet,
but she laughed softer than the music.
He keeps on going back to see if he can hear it.

He writes about his father,
but alters things.
The tone of voice.
The anger.
The disappointment.
The Buick doesn’t start in the driveway
because he never left.
There was never a half-brother he never met.
The dog he never got.
The car he had to save for three summers to buy.
They throw a football together in the twilight,
even though his father was a baseball fan.

He writes about his third love —
the one who left.
He doesn’t change that.
He hears the door slam like the beat of his heart.
He feels like dying every time.
She comes back — but not immediately.
He writes the sleepless nights, the food that won’t stay down.
But she comes back.
She smells like lavender and vanilla.
She kisses his eyelids, his cheeks, his lips.
They never say sorry.
They make love on the living room floor in the
gold light of the bay window.
She says his name over and over,
like the beat of his heart,
like the shutting door,
like if she can just love him hard enough
it will all stop and they can stay like this.
He never stops writing about her.

A man sits at his desk.
It is three in the morning.
A woman,
who is his sixth love and his wife,
asks him what he is doing up.
He says nothing.
She starts to look worn and transparent.
He has seen everything,
done everything,
and all he wants to do is go back to the
places he couldn’t stop from
The man could write up anything,
but instead he dances with his mother,
goes long for his father,
and listens to his name said
again and again
like a lullaby.


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