Sunset

November 27, 2016

Once, as the sun swallowed the stars,
and his mom sang Green Day as she cooked his breakfast,
he grabbed a purple crayon
and tried to bite off the top

Just because.
And at school, he made friends with the boy
Who shoved his finger up his nose
Because he didn’t want
to stand in the lunch line

Alone.


Once, as the sun cowered behind the clouds,
and his teacher asked for everyone’s homework,
he yanked out a gnawed pencil
and hurriedly started scrawling out answers,
Stealing fervent glances at his classmates’ work.
And when the lunch lady charged him a dollar extra,
he didn’t say anything
because it looked like she could use the money.


Once, as the sun blazed down on the grass,
he tried to kick the ball past first base
and ignored everyone’s groans
when he couldn’t.
And when they started a kickball team,
he tried out anyway,
because the coach had told him
he had “high potential.”


Once, as the sun smirked at the birds darting past,
he shoved his earbuds in his ears
even though he’d forgotten his music
Because he knew
if he took them out,
the girl walking behind him
Would try to strike up an
Astonishingly, mind-numbingly, throat-slittingly
Boring conversation with him.


Once, as the sun stumbled towards the horizon,
he sang along to songs he didn’t know in his battered Camaro
On the way to UC Berkeley
His family’s tearful farewell abandoned
In the corner of his mind,
collecting dust with
His old teddy bears and
picture books.


Once, as the sun shot streaks of red through the sky,
his hand closed around the diploma,
he watched his cap tumble through the air,
and whoops and applause shattered the world.
And after the parents had clapped their children on the back
and left the janitor to clean up the mess,
he sat on the confetti-littered ground
And stared at his scuffed shoes.


Once, as the sun meandered down the fading sky,
he met a woman
With a quick smile and hair the color of syrup on pancakes
And he got down on one knee and
heard her say the most beautiful word, “Yes.”
And it was her wide eyes and birdsong mouth in his mind
when the law firm offered him the boring corporate job,
And it was their future that made
him say the ugliest word, “Yes.”


Once, as the sun stained the clouds bubble gum pink,
he straightened his tie,
choked the butterflies in his stomach, wrapped his heart around hers, and whispered,”I do.”
And months later, he arrived just in time
To hear her scream
And see the doctor approach, cradling a peach-fuzzed baby.


Once, as the land shielded half the sun from view,
he watched his children live
Their happy little suburban lives
And chase the dog to pull on his tail
as his wife leaned on his shoulder.
And he told her to stop babying them so much
Or they’d never grow up,
But he never stopped
Sneaking them extra cookies
And telling them the answers to their homework
Instead of teaching them.


Once, as the sun dipped almost entirely under the horizon,
he wanted to lift up his grandchildren, but
His arms were shaking too much
So he just patted their heads
And wished for a stronger body.


Once, as the night was quiet,
he lay alone,
Missing his long-gone wife,
That one Green Day song,
The taste of a good night's sleep,
His ancient Camaro he'd had repurposed,
Being incapable of swallowing his smile as he walked down the aisle,
His sons and daughters who were busy,
That cookie he'd loved as a boy but forgotten the name of
Wishing it were morning
And that he weren't
So
Goddamn forgettable. 






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