Shower First. Clean Clothes

We wake Paul up,
banging with a stick on the downspout outside his window.

The brass doorknob
turns to the low rumble of cuss words strung together.

Twice he cusses me by name.
He flips us the bird when the door opens.

The door remains open as he walks
toward the kitchen and the reprieve of brewing tea.

Dora and I preserve the quiet—
all rituals deserve respect no matter how bent the performance.

Paul introduces the first sips to his lips,
still dressed in ragged red T-shirt and paint speckled sweats.

We say nothing.
Paul runs calculations through his head, Sunday?

Tuesday, Dora laughs
like we were transported through time to university.

Paul holds his hands out
as if we are police who caught him fare and square.

Shower first. Clean clothes, I suggest,
before we drive him to the church hall for twelve-stepping.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney

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