After practice, my son kicks off his cleats
and leaves them under the front seat.
He treats the van like a storage locker,
draping his uniform and sweats around.
The daughter complains each morning
as I take her to school. The cleats smell.
Theyíre in her way. Itís not fair. I agree
with all of these points, and yet I donít
tell the son to move them. For one,
itís yet another argument Iím too tired
to have. There are already so many things
Iím prodding him about: homework,
showers, closing doors, drinking water Ö
and, to be honest, I kind of like them there,
this mark of the boy, these muddy talismans.
He used to hold my hand as he fell asleep,†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
and once he pulled his fingers away,
picked his nose, then slid them back in my palm.
Yes, this is love, I thought then, holding snot
unflinchingly. Soon enough Iíll be able
to keep the van and the house and my life
clean, uncluttered; for now, I let him
leave his cleats there, in everyoneís way,
telling myself itís a type of civics lesson
about living together, telling my daughter,
ďI know, I know, itís annoying. Kind of like
when someone keeps pre-setting the stereo
buttons to all their favorite stations.Ē ďNo,
she says, ďNo. That is totally different.Ē
This poem first appeared in† Autumn Sky Poetry Review.
Used here with the author's permission.