And next week I’ll ask you the same question again
even though you told me last week not to always ask
when you’d be home because you just don’t know.
What I said was we wanted to know if you’d be here
for dinner but what I wanted to say was this is my house,
show some damn respect. I didn’t want to sound
like my own father, voice roughened by the flora
of cigarette butts blooming in his chalice ashtray,
but I was now him, my wine glass
taking the place of his pack of Winston 100s,
having this same talk with a similarly cocky
teenage son oozing the cologne
of braggadocio and bravado.
When you live under my roof, you live by my rules
in my father’s day was the gray cliché of parenting
a teenage son, nearly a man in so many ways yet not so
in many others. My father’s rules wouldn’t work today,
in this brittle era of eggshell words and participation trophies,
so I attempt to tilt my son’s fulcrum toward adulthood
by talking in tempered terms instead, knowing the hourglass
offers only so many more next weeks to ask
if he’s coming home for dinner,
leery that the wrong words can be as fragile
as shards shattering as the door slams closed.
This is a reprint of work originally published in Cathexis Northwest Press.
David Colodney is the author of the chapbook, Mimeograph (Finishing Line Press, 2020). A two-time Pushcart nominee, his poems have appeared in The South Carolina Review, Panoply, Eunoia Review, Causeway Lit, and The Chaffin Journal, among others. David holds an MFA from Converse College, and lives in Boynton Beach, Florida, with his wife, three sons, and Golden Retriever.