In Meadowlake Park
Taking the park’s long path,
I come upon a family of four:
father smoking a huge cigar,
mother in purple flip-flops,
boys ages three and five
by my hasty reckoning—
racing on their jubilant trikes.
A dispute breaks out between the boys.
The father hands the cigar to his wife,
kneels beside the boys, his voice
quiet, deliberate, cutting the air
the way he might peel an orange.
Then tenuously, as if from a frame
stopped in slow motion, the four
begin again—father reclaiming
his cigar, mother retrieving
a flip-flop she’d stepped out of,
boys wobbling, subdued and fallen,
the wheels of their tricycles rolling now,
orderly now, as a brisk cloud
reaches toward the sun to reproach it.
Because you have willingly lost
an empire, effectively disinheriting
because you have wasted every talent
ever given you;
because each crystal moment of your life
you have trumped with greed—
you can now relax
into the state
of grace denied—
never being called upon to love
or grieve at funerals
or say Thank you.
Jo McDougall, a native of Arkansas, now lives in Kansas City. Her five books of poetry include, most recently, Dirt and Satisfied with Havoc (Autumn House Press) and the chapbook Under an Arkansas Sky (Tavern Books). Daddy’s Money: a Memoir of Farm and Family was published in 2011 by the U. of Arkansas Press.