Poetry 2013 / Volume 44

Divorces — Robert Stout

Bostyk, the janitor,
pinned a picture of his wife
above the towels in the room behind the gym
where he ate his packaged ham-and-cheese
and drank a small root beer.

he claimed, was a nervous sort
who tried hard to impress…

When he turned down
a chance to learn power tools
she ran away
with a trucker with a missing front tooth

But it was
a lot my fault, he explained,
not the money so much as the times alone
when I listened to ball games on radio
and she sat on the front porch sewing
dreams of new cars into ruffled skirts…

Now, as I wait to hear the first pitch,
I reach for a photograph. And tell
Bostyk, wherever he is,
that I understand what he meant
when he said

I guess if I had it
to do over again I’d kiss her
or give her candy bars
or slap her around
just so she’d know that I knew she was there…

A high fly ball
hovers above an outfielder’s glove;
I sit alone at my desk.

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