My mother always says the man’s a fool so it comes
as a surprise, how surely my father drives through
the maze of streets in New York City. He makes no
wrong turns, asks for no directions,
consults no maps. From the back of our Rambler,
four children thrust heads into the beeping horns,
into the streams of cars and buses that waver
and wobble forward like penned cattle,
and there’s my father driving calmly right through
all that mayhem as if he enjoys it. He even points
things out to us.
See, that's the Stock exchange.
Over there, that mansion, Andrew Carnegie lived there.
Just like that, all the way to Long Long Island
without a single hitch.
It is late afternoon when we arrive at his mother’s
beach house. After miles of dried Indiana clay,
the glittery Atlantic ocean stuns, an amazing sight,
a planet in itself, etched in gold. But what I see next
stops me in my tracks: rising from the whirling water,
armies of black-shelled creatures as big as geese
with feathery claws and snapping tails, and eyes with
pouches like purses, are crawling over sand,
whiskers twitching, toward us.
We scramble up the porch squealing, beating
on the door, we are banging, we are yelling,
we are crying, but my father’s only swaying, he is
pouring, and his mother’s saying Francis,
you've had enough, and the ice is tossing in the shaker,
the vodka’s splashing and I am understanding
my father’s not a fool, he’s a drunk.