Evening Guilt

Evening Guilt

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An ESME Poetry Showcase Award submission

Evening Guilt

I should be proud of the calm

in his 10-year-old voice saying

he’s fine, finished his homework,

parroting I love you before he hangs up.

But I am mostly bitter

in this sweet moment

because he is alone, swallowed

into a silent, sunless house,

taking care of himself

(an unnatural task for a child)

slicing his own apple, pouring

his own cereal into a Spiderman

bowl, washing his own dishes.

Closing the door behind him

and locking himself in, being

his own armor, protection, and peace

while I make do, 80 miles away

in a town he can’t fathom.

On the ride home, I pray

aloud that these lonely

dusk hours will not be

his single remembrance

of me. I pray that he

recalls the smell of pink

grapefruit after kissing

my freshly cleaned face

goodnight. I ask God to

only let him conjure up

autumn Saturday mornings,

our breath forming small clouds

between us as I snap his

chinstrap, tighten the laces on

his cleats, and send him off

to battle. Let his reminiscing

be filled with the laughter and

reverie of singing along to

Bruno Mars as he stirs the pasta

and I brown the sausage

for Sunday dinner. Let the

small, kind moments swell

in his heart, leave no room

for dejected sunsets, bruised

promises still needing to heal.

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