Young Father

by Michael Miller

Michael Miller

The house still undone
from his bark and the slammed front door,
he ponders a jacket, then faces the yard
in tank top and paint-smeared jeans.
The neighbors’ girl in the wading pool
stares as his mind sizes up his person:
the stubble on his chin,
good for scaring coyotes.
The dirty jeans, a sign of work.

The door will survive
just as it toughed the last earthquake.
No carpenter, he scans the homes down the block
and pretends to figure out the supports.
Behind the pastel walls,
the boards clench in some machinery,
some intricate weights and balances
to quell the unexpected blows.

Before long, his mind will reshuffle the story:
He shouted first, or maybe the boy,
something interjected about toys in the kitchen
or a forgotten promise of a ride.
The woman kept quiet, pressed the boy to her stomach.
She holds the foundation, stills the pulses
that the walls tuck, wavering, inside.
They do their best here, the ones who moved in
after someone else conquered the wild.

Last updated March 20, 2023