They were always dignified about it
            When they sent us to our rooms

            My brother locked his door and
            Listened to the radio –
            He wasn’t much to read

            I kept mine open just a crack
            But I could never hear exactly
            What they said
            Though how they said the things
            I couldn’t hear seemed worse
            Than whispering: it made me
            Think of places like Antarctica
            Or Space

            It wasn’t even words but more
            Like fluid moving slowly
            Down a drain

            As I waited for the drips to stop
            I got Ideas – you see, I thought
            Like a Philosopher about a cause,
            Or causes, and the role of time and
            How the further back something occurred
            The less we tended to attribute blame:
            And really, when you thought about it hard,
            What passed a moment or 
            A billion years ago was just as
            Irretrievable . . .

            When mom peeked in at me
            I rubbed my eyes
            As if I’d been asleep
            Pretending not to see 
            The bruises on her cheeks

            They weren’t really visible
            Because my father wasn’t violent
            Like that: I just could tell
            Their tenderness and burn
            The way an older son
            Who’s had his share of hugs
            Is able to, and yearned
            For shoulders big and wide
            As my philosophising petered out

            It happened, finally, one day,
            And it was just the three of us

            Of all the things I marvelled 
            That my mom could do –
            Like handle hot potatoes without gloves
            Or wipe up milk that spilled
            So that it disappeared without a trace –

            She showed her strength the most
            By making it okay for me 
            To keep my dreams and 
            Save my arms the extra weight
            A lesser mother 
            Would have welcomed


            Emanuel E. García, Wandering Bark2013