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A Poem for Happy Endings

The hero gets the girl.

The villain plunges to his death;

his bitter face disappears in fire and smoke.

The estranged lovers embrace,

while swelling violins cue the audience

to reach for tissues.


The script I wrote for my father opens at a banquet,

the room jammed with co-workers and friends,

speaker after speaker telling stories

with that rough humor men use to disguise their love.


And then, the days fishing, tinkering with the

lawn mower, sitting on the porch with a western

novel, while keeping a watchful eye on passing traffic.


The camera turns now to mother; in a long shot

we see the little grey house with garden in back,

a small figure kneeling in the dirt, a big floppy hat

blocking the sun; we zoom in on a cotton glove,

a wrist fine-boned as a bird’s,

a trowel making room for the next petunia.


Who hands out the happy endings?

Who, late one night, stood outside

my parents’ home, gazed at some mark scrawled

on the door, then turned to walk away,

the sound of footsteps fading on the empty street?


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