Joseph, Carpenter


You stroke your few strands of

hair as you steady the teaspoon

to the open mouth of your child.

Around the eatery

people look and think about how

young your wife is and how old you are

and what did that girl see in you

when you’re not rich or

famous and only your forehead

shows any prominence.

Times are hard, they keep saying;

a maiden must be practical.

But you are thankful for this young

woman who bore you a boy,

not your own blood but your own still,

kissing your forehead with what you

think to be one-half respect,

one-half romance,

warming your arthritic nights

like a kindly nurse to a refugee.

You joke and ask if she’s not repulsed

her husband smells like sawdust.

She smiles and says,

as if to read your thoughts,

“I’m a refugee too.”


[July 2006]


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