The boy sits there. An empty-headed kid of eleven I guess
Staring in my general direction like a special kind of slow.
His older brother asks me to run some warm bath water.
Their father, with a face full of hair, reeks of smoke and
Cannot wash away his nicotine lips or stained smile.
And where is their mother, I always wonder when I come in.
The white wooden church next door, has been condemned
And belongs to them. They are going to fix it up, get closer
To God; preach the gospel, bring in some pews. But all they
Manage to lug in is a TV set and a coffee table to rest their
Beer cans on. Sweaty, they leave rings. And I’m too good for this.
Only I don’t know it yet. But maybe that’s what this boy who
Misses his mother is trying to teach me with his irksome eyes.
The oldest one is nailing blankets over broken glass right now
Because it’s cold. And sometimes it rains in December, and
Where is their mother? I can’t say why I go, leaving only a trace
Of mist leading out west. But as I sit on a train, I remember
Those boys, an anonymous sad wind blowing east of the Rockies
Where poppies never grow, because they’re not meant for snow.
And now I am remembering. Poppies were never meant for snow.
Written for Real Toads