Home from work and it’s time to take the babysitter home from work.
Goldali greets me with a big hug.
She made me tea and for herself, warm milk with honey, which she carries to the car. Nicky the babysitter talks about the boat he bought with three friends.
Joe Cuba comes up on the cd player,
Some song about a horse and cowboy
That Goldali wants to hear again.
I oblige because I hardly ever tire of Latin Boogaloo.
She interrupts to start negotiations.
Shark boy and Lava Girl on a school night.
By the time Nicky exits,
Crossed arms and a huffy chin.
She leaves her mug on the back seat.
Suddenly, all I want is sleep. Just for twenty minutes.
Rubin needs to be picked up, 7:30 I think.
I see the stuff I keep meaning to move from the porch before the landlord asks me.
Goldali reminds me it’s time for homework.
Why do 2d graders have homework?
Twenty minutes of reading.
I lie down beside her on the couch while she reads aloud.
I hear that “There was a bear with a big problem.”
I must have dozed off because next
She’s writing and whispering while she writes “twenty minutes.”
I say go play and I’ll change out of my work clothes.
In the bedroom, I step out of my shoes, slip off my slacks
And pull my shirt off over my head without unbuttoning.
If I could I’d keep shedding skins until all I was was
That little bit of brain spark, that bolt of self,
And let it turn the unplugged toaster on,
And change the channel on the TV,
And appear to Goldali as a fleck of gold to light the doll house window.
Instead, I sit at the edge of the bed in my dress socks and boxers.
How foolish men look in socks and underwear, I think.
And that seems to be enough, for now. To be my own fool.
It’s time to pick up Rubin.
“No, you’re not old enough to stay alone while I go.”
I pretend we are a rocket and press buttons and converse with ground control.
She wants to know how we’ll find Jupiter in the dark.
I remind her it’s the brightest light in the sky tonight.

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