Freddy’s Father: A Poem


had an anchor tattoo on his arm
and worked at the nearby rolling mill.
He didn’t say much
but his wife made up for it,
usually at his expense.

“You have no manners,”
she’d say. “Close your mouth
when you eat, use your fork, not your fingers.”
I had supper with them sometimes
and winced when Freddy
-- their only child -- would pile on.
“Slow down, dad, you eat like a horse.”

One summer day, Freddy and I
were cooling off in his backyard,
hopping around the sprinkler,
while his father let us take turns
spraying each other with the garden hose.
I still had the nozzle in my hand
when he asked for it back.

Staring at his tattoo, I blasted
his shirt, his pants, his face.
“Hey what the hell are you doing?” he said.
My fear gone, the thrill
of taking down an adult,
soaking him, until he grabbed me,
both of us slipping, wrestling
on our knees, on the ground.

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