Stiff, thick: the white hair of the broad-faced father,
who leads his shambling son along
cracked sidewalks, by dusty glass half hiding
goods never sold. The son is the taller one
but still a child: not aware of his clothes,
of what expressions seize on his soft face.
His gait lolls, loosely directed from some weak,
distant center, scarcely devoted to any purpose
but following along and looking. Thick lenses glint
with watery blue: his small eyes, veiled
and placid, as far off as the milky August sky.
The father, all the time glancing at him and talking
as man to man, seems to forget it would be better
for this one to have been like all the rest.
He has his son still with him, the others
have grown up and gone away—but when he dies,
then what will happen to the boy? Even this thought
is absorbed now in their ordinary errand,
men’s business: grateful going out through the day,
talk with the owners, the salesmen, a mechanic
in the scent of grease and sawdust of machined metal,
the sifting through tools and parts that flow, spill, gleam
like seeds, like sand—looking for what fits,
finding what will work. Afterwards to stop for food,
then walk back home down the clear streets, when starlings,
hunting and restless before sleep, and children
are the loudest things, with the dark foaming
among maples, glinting, as it comes in.