My mother, poised around behavior, would say You are sitting there reading and smoking, Hans, And this would describe for her, to her utter Satisfaction, what it is you are doing. Knowing you I guess you are stationed there In grief, reverie, worry--your car broken Down, the mechanic wanting money, and you without, For the moment, what it takes--and you thinking Of love lost as you read that impossible book Your father last gave you....I see you smoking And as an addict myself I know this is something You are barely doing....The habit smokes itself And you, you are turning the page where the woman From New Orleans, like your woman, goes to Manhattan. I suppose my mother, in her mania, could never afford To think there was anything hovering around, anything Behind behavior. Unable to sit, to go into that sorrow Where what failed to happen presses against what did, She would get up, go out looking for "Something Different," do anything to keep moving, behaving... Going. But you, Hans, you are a sitter, and I know You will not be getting up until you have put this time Behind you. And so your friends pass by waiting, Wanting to know what you will come up with when you rise From your stationary chair, our Hans reading and smoking.
From American Prodigal by Liam Rector, published by Story Line Press. Copyright © 1994 by Liam Rector. Reprinted by permission of the author and Story Line Press.