The late-afternoon light entered
the living room through the barred
windows like a boxer through ropes.
When my mom’s bronze Chevrolet
pulled down the driveway, I hurried
away my toys. She always waved,
never smiled. Funny how my dad
coming home isn’t a memory.
It was not joy when they got home
but relief. With his hand, my dad
warmed beer, and my mom, with
a fork, jabbed defrosted meat.
This was when she started calling
me Champ. At dinner, dad asked
if I wanted the belt. My memory
of those years is punch-drunk.
Her best defense was a good offense.
Like the warming before snow,
mom thawed into pleasantries.
After dinner my father sat on the floor
with his corduroy shorts riding up
his thighs while I put on boxing gloves
around his shadow. I floated, stung.
I rode his shoulders over crowds,
raised my arms. The oversized gloves
on my hands were smaller, lighter
than my want to punch him.
From Post Traumatic Hood Disorder (Sarabande Books, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by David Tomas Martinez. Used with the permission of the poet.