Hans Reading, Hans Smoking
My mother, poised around behavior, would say
You are sitting there reading and smoking, Hans,
And this would describe for her, to her utter
Satisfaction, what it is you are doing.
Knowing you I guess you are stationed there
In grief, reverie, worry--your car broken
Down, the mechanic wanting money, and you without,
For the moment, what it takes--and you thinking
Of love lost as you read that impossible book
Your father last gave you....I see you smoking
And as an addict myself I know this is something
You are barely doing....The habit smokes itself
And you, you are turning the page where the woman
From New Orleans, like your woman, goes to Manhattan.
I suppose my mother, in her mania, could never afford
To think there was anything hovering around, anything
Behind behavior. Unable to sit, to go into that sorrow
Where what failed to happen presses against what did,
She would get up, go out looking for "Something
Different," do anything to keep moving, behaving...
Going. But you, Hans, you are a sitter, and I know
You will not be getting up until you have put this time
Behind you. And so your friends pass by waiting,
Wanting to know what you will come up with when you rise
From your stationary chair, our Hans reading and smoking.
From American Prodigal by Liam Rector, published by Story Line Press. Copyright © 1994 by Liam Rector. Reprinted by permission of the author and Story Line Press.