Close to the Center

By 3:30 the school is an empty husk.
Children bundle home
through the animated fog of their breath,
full of the familiar rush and exhilaration
of this daily emancipation.

My children do not yet see me
as a ghost in the kitchen window,
haunting their freedom
with the shackles of a father’s love.
They are too young
to hear the rattle of chains
when I meet them at the door
with smiles and admonitions to hang coats and clean boots.

The pull of opposing forces – when do they first realize it?
As if feeling gravity for the first time.
Sensing what you are and what you would be otherwise.
My own father hides behind my eyes and sees my every hesitation.
He hears the catch in my voice each time I come to the moral of the story.
His clarity is the great mythology of my life.
The chain that hugs my waist and keeps me close to the center of the earth.

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