January 24, 2010

Tony Gloeggler

A GOOD BAD DAY

John walks slowly up the stairs
to my office every day. Between
four and four-thirty, after the bus
brings him home from day program
and after he uses the bathroom,
he says, “Oh, hello Tony,” as if
he’s surprised to find me
sitting at my desk. He says
he had a good day, stands
by a chair and after six years
of living at the residence,
his home, he still hesitates,
wonders if he needs permission
to sit down. I don’t give it,
wait until he sits on his own.
He tells me if he read or colored,
exercised or sang today and I ask
questions as if I was his mother.
Maybe he went to a park, a store,
the library. All along he wears
this pleasant, half-smiling,
perfectly balanced, Zen-like gaze
across his Fred Flintstone face
and I don’t know if I’m stressed
or bored, mean or just a smart-ass
acting like we are friends;
but when he asks me about my day
sometimes I tell him the truth.

Uselessly endless meetings, piles
of paperwork, asshole administrators.
Not enough sleep. Girlfriend trouble.
Yesterday, I told him that a woman
I loved is getting married on a boat
in September and I wished
I owned a torpedo. He didn’t say
anything, just sat there smiling
and I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help it,
I had to ask him if he ever
had a bad day. When he said no,
none that he could remember,
I said are you sure. He said
I don’t think so and looked like
he was thinking hard. I leaned
forward, said that I felt very sad
when my father died and I wondered
how he felt when his mom and dad
passed away. John jutted out his chin,
looked beyond me and said yeah
that was a bad day. When I asked
if he missed them, he chewed
on his lips, said sometimes,
and I said I know what you mean.

from Rattle #31, Summer 2009