“The Delivery Man” by Kim Dower

Kim Dower


would drive his little van down the street,
slide open the door, his face obscured
by hanging clothes draped in plastic bags,
take out his penis and masturbate
as he watched us play handball against
the Party Cake wall. We were nine or ten
maybe eleven, and we knew when he drove by
what it would mean. Some of us stopped to watch,
could only see the quick movement of his hand,
but once I saw it all. It was like being transfixed
by a crash on the side of the road—ashamed
to want to take in the suffering of others, yet
bewitched by the horrifying images.
His grunts were obscured by the traffic,
but if you went close enough to his truck
you could hear the groan of relief when he was done.
He wore an oversized raincoat just like the joke.
We never told our dads but our moms knew.
They saw him, too. He’s exposing himself,
my mother explained. No one made me look
but I couldn’t turn away—paralyzed by fear
and the excitement of repulsion—of knowing
it was wrong but needing to see how he
did this thing, wanting to be his audience
in a sticky white mess of daylight.

from Rattle #60, Summer 2018


Kim Dower: “I write poetry in part—as many have said—to help me create order out of chaos. W.H. Auden’s line, ‘Poetry is the clear expression of mixed feelings,’ always rings true for me. ‘The Delivery Man’ helped me sort out a lot of mixed feelings after events in the news brought back a creepy memory from childhood. Writing it also showed me that upsetting experiences are not necessarily traumatizing.” (web)

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