Naps and Cigars

Location

78247
United States
29° 35' 8.5488" N, 98° 24' 46.584" W

I dreamt.

with the man who had been to Vietnam
speaking at school
over the book he wrote about
war
I knew you
in your light gray ARMY shirt
pulled over the potbelly,
would be coming to visit

briefly
you were there
but enough
for me to awaken
mind rife with
recollections

you smoked cigars -

by the time I was four,
you had ended that habit
I see few instances
in my mind
of you picking up one
and sliding the glass door
to puff outside

you smoked cigars
but by the time I was
four
I knew they were
“bad”
questioned why you
did
something that hurt you

I can’t say you
provided an answer
but your son told me
it was a habit,

leftover.

by the time I was four,
I think I saw you smoke
your last cigar
I think
there
one of my memories of
you holding the thick
cigar up and it
burning brightly as the evening
fell
you smoked the last one
I think
there.
I think I was
there
when you smoked
the last
one

you wouldn’t
smoke in the house
with me
you stopped
because you
wanted more
time
with me
or maybe,
just more
time.
you
let me try to climb a tree
lifted me on a sitting branch when
I failed

you
let me creep through overgrown lawns
as if they were jungle
I an explorer
though my parents feared snakes

I played freely with kids across the
street
from your home
while you kept a casual eye

we walked all the way down the street
we walked up hills
descended them flushed
from heat
limbs loose
from exercise
I chattered constant
child’s speak
while you listened the
whole way

I, hot in Texas
- what a concept -
asked if I could mimic
you
that gray ARMY shirt
pulled over your belly
you would flip it up
and let whatever
breeze cool you

please could I?
and you said sure
five year olds have bellies
and I showed mine
to every person who
drove by that day

the man about war
talked about veterans going quiet
but you sang
from your records
and taught me
-isms of life

you told me stories
of monsters and princesses
you let me catch grasshoppers in
the yard
helping me see them jump
at each footfall

I picked a bluebonnet -
yes I confess -
and you told me if I hurried
the police wouldn’t
arrest me if I made it
stand up from the ground
quick

by the time I was four
you had stopped giving time
to smoking cigars
and I only had to
occupy my own time
when you were asleep,
mid-afternoon

Have a nice nap,
I’m here
when you wake
up.

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