Inking the Road Again

Patrick Carrington

Tumors of sidewalk snap under my shoes.
I don’t listen or look left at the cancered
house as I pass. But I know it’s there,
slumped in an easy chair of mud, pitifully
dressed in maple crumbs and stains of rain

like my father wore on his ginnie t. His
nightly storm of chips and beer watching tv
in a lazyboy. Swelling in the belly, shrinking
in the groin while his neglected wife stripped
skin from a biker, sucking highways out

of his tattoos. Once, he gave her roses
for no reason but love, cut from bushes
in the yard. I know that prize garden
is a graveyard now. I buried the bodies
and planted the stones, groomed

its misery until mower blades were
the color of evening sky. I pruned vines
with unpracticed hands until dry thorns
couldn’t break babyskin, chopped down
riots of wood until the ax head wobbled
and fell in the dirt with my dreams.

I don’t look back, won’t look. I tend
to myself, hit nothing now but the road.
I’ve found my mother’s double yellow line.
No crossing, no u-turns. Funny how
I never got there until the morning
I had this fine replica of a Route 66 sign
inked into my arm, right above the heart
that says “Mom.”