The good-looking one, the one in need, the one that almost was
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I’m a new face in the therapy group.
My wife’s ultimatum drove us here tonight.
And when my turn in the circle comes
to say what I’m feeling right now,
my tears surprise even me. I shout
that I’m leaving as I head to the door.
Back home with my mortified wife,
soon to be ex, I don’t try to defend
my rude behavior. I take refuge instead
in the toolshed, where I find solace
in my crowbars, scythes, wrenches, vises,
everything hanging on its proper hook.
I’m my father all over again.
Even the day my friend Bennie drowned,
I hammered and sawed my way through it
while Mom was sobbing in the house.
Dry-eyed, Dad confessed to me that he felt
like someone had punched him in the gut.
He was referring to Bennie’s death, yes,
but also to Mom weeping like that,
out of his reach and mine.
As we walked to the barn that night
to milk the cows and slaughter
a chicken for the funeral dinner,
I asked Dad why men don’t cry.
You just learn to take it, that’s all,
he said, handing me the hatchet.