Wife and Child Leave Mr. Walton Spanish Teacher
I return home from teaching to a front door left ajar.
The silence in the house amplifies
The heartbeat from our clock hanging on the wall.
I find a note on my little girl’s bed
Lying in the hollow of her body’s impression.
I do not punch the wall this time,
But that doesn’t make up for anything.
I eat some dates left on the kitchen counter
After my wife blended a date shake this morning.
I watch a few minutes of Brady Bunch and Telemundo
Before weeping into my forearms until dusk.
I think if I kill myself
I’ll sink non-stop to hell—
But a freshman Spanish class is hell
For a bald, white male
Tall as a doorway,
Pale as a glass of milk.
The Mexican students mock my accent,
Challenge my knowledge of their culture
With their quizzes on pop stars and folklore,
Though they’ve never watched a Cantiflas film.
And he was greater than Charlie Chaplin.
My father taught me to tie
A noose to anchor our boat on the deck at a small lake in Ohio.
I remember his hands—knuckles like ball bearings
Under his skin, his fingers fly paper-yellow from tobacco.
Thick nails like teeth on his fingertips. No matter his quick temper,
We would have not abandoned him.
In a Super 8 motel room across the desert
She is probably lying next to my wife,
My little one confused, biting
Into the ear of her pillow, reciting
An Our Father in Spanish.
Before I swing like broken legs on a piñata above the garage floor,
I search her drawers for mementos.
I find two bobby pins, a busted rubber band,
And a severed blond head of a Barbie doll
Which I stick inside my front pocket.
I search the garage closet for the stepping
Stool with uneven legs.
Death smells of rags soaked in acetone and dry lawn mower grass.
¡Adiós pinche mundo!
I place two dates in my mouth
To take with me something sweet.