A Day At The Races

By Robert VanderMolen Robert VanderMolen
When you wake up after twelve hours
The stove is cold, there's ice in the water bucket
— clouds outside and snow, the noise of a crow,
The only sound; until your wife cries
From an upper bunk, Honey, I'd like some coffee.
Luther chuckles. I nod, excuse myself  for the men's room

Next to me stretches a teacher
Who once warned me not to get married
Too early. Elderly now, but having done well
In real estate as a second career. He says
Well, well, as if  he can't recall my name.
But buys me a drink and talks of  his wayward
Daughter. When he mentions her married last name
I tell him I have met her, but leave off at that    . . .
He squints like a badger. In my wife's family, he resumes,
After a jostling by a drunken salesman, there's a
Sort of stupid gene that runs through the whole outfit,
Being half  Finnish, half  Dutch — or maybe something
Cancelled something    . . .    I notice a protuberance, a small growth
At the edge of  his eye, hanging like a broken thread

I always thought, I say, your daughter had a charming
Personality. He hunches his shoulders. Waking to dread,
The debts of  dread — but I couldn't help him.
Neither did I want to. On the way out
I spot my first wife chatting with a small-time gangster —
She flutters a wave my way, a Victorian flutter

Source: Poetry (October 2007).

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This poem originally appeared in the October 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

October 2007
 Robert  VanderMolen

Biography

Robert VanderMolen lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His latest collection of poems is Water (Michigan State University Press, 2008).

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Friends & Enemies

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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