Fifteen years later the old tollbooth keeper is still at his post but cannot break a twenty, regrettably, his brains blown out, or provide the forgotten directions. I did phone, what do you think? Before I can blink I am parked out front of the unbelievably small, unlighted house.I’ve got my finger on the buried bell, nothing. For hours I’ve been walking around, and I hate to be the one to tell you this, but no one is home in Zanesville, Ohio. My dusty toothbrush waits for me, of this I feel quite sure, my teenage image in the dust-dimmed mirror waits. Only now I’m afraid I’ll be forced to disturb the slow fine snow of dust that’s been coming down, year after year, on my blanket and hair, and put on my dust-covered clothes, and walk without making a sound, trailing my eternal lunar footprints, down the windless hall, and down the stairs at last. It’s not going to happen overnight. But one of these days I’ll arrive; I will go down to sit with the father. The elderly father, strictly speaking, of never really having been there.I will sit down and eat my bowl of dust like all the rest.
Source: Poetry (January 2011).
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This poem originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of Poetry magazine