Two quarters on the bar top and the leisurely drumbeat
of a stranger's hands adding counterpoint to a midweek
doubleheader. I'm here for the air conditioning
and the bartender's disinterest. I'm here because there's
nowhere else to go. I'm not yet drunk enough to be
so maudlin and yet. I wish I was old enough to have
outgrown the worry. In my mid-forties and I might as well
be a newborn as far as that goes. Too often I'm overcome
by all the junk in my head that I could pass on to my son.
Looking at the state of things, though, I suppose
that should be the least of my worries. I take a moment
every day now to ask whatever the hell is out there to ask
that he isn't too disappointed. With me, with this country.
With the foolishness that passes for our days and all of the lies
we insist on telling ourselves about ourselves. The other night
I dreamt he was here with me at the bar. Just a boy and proud
to be with his father. He tried to steal sips of my beer,
and his mouth was wide with so much loud laughter. My son.
What a wonderful dream. There are children right now lost
across these divided states who may never see their fathers
and mothers again in this life. They are made to sleep
in cages. Some are beaten, some raped. All are weeping.
In the dream my son is kind. He is generous to me.
Not once does he ask, What did you do to stop this?
Kristofer Collins is a writer living in Pittsburgh.