Late Night Classic
If I ran back to my childhood and looked for my father at midnight, I would find him in the living room, awake, while the rest of the household slept upstairs. His chair would face the television, closely, like a dance partner, and he would have knobbed the volume to the left. A classic would silver the space. I would recognize Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. They would look graceful, intense. And my father, the watcher, with his crossed legs and thumb worrying his pipe’s breathing bowl, would never once glance behind him and notice the stray sock, the textbook, the crocheted throw that was coming apart at the center, unraveling like the family, together but barely. He would cloak the ordinary with his Captain Black smoke, a wafting veil, a sweet gray smothering in the manner a filmmaker construes dreams, like a fog that hides, drifts, swells. How permissible my father would make the poison, how even lovely. I would stay very still. I would think, That is my father and his dream. I would understand: This is as close as I can get.
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