Elegy For My Mother's Ex-Boyfriend

By James Kimbrell

Let it be said

that Tim’s year was divided

into two seasons: sneakers

and flip-flops. Let us

remember that Tim

would sometimes throw a football

with all the requisite grip, angle

and spiral-talk. Let us recall

that for the sake of what was left

of appearances, my mother

never once let him sleep

in her bed; he snored all over

our dog-chewed couch, and in

the mornings when I tip-toed

past him on my way

to school, his jowls

fat as a catcher’s mitt, I never cracked

an empty bottle across that space

where his front teeth

rotted out. Nor did I touch

a struck match to that mole

by his lip, whiskery dot that—he 

believed—made him irresistable

to all lovelorn women.

Still, let us remember

sweetness: Tim lying face down,

Mom popping the zits

that dotted his broad, sun-spotted back,

which, though obviously

gross, gets the January photo

in my personal wall calendar

of what love should be,

if such a calendar

could still exist above my kitchen table

junked up with the heretos and

therefores from my

last divorce.

              Let us not forget

how my mother would slip

into her red cocktail dress

and Tim would say,

“Your mother is beautiful,”

before getting up

to go dance with someone else.

              In fairness, let me

confess that I pedaled

my ten-speed

across the Leaf River bridge

all the way to Tim’s

other woman’s house

and lay with that woman’s daughter

beside the moon-

cold weight

of the propane tank, dumb

with liquor, numb to

the fire ants that we spread

our blanket over until

I stopped for a second

and looked up

because I wondered if

her mother could hear us,

or if Tim might not

have stood in the kitchen,

maybe looked out

the window and saw

my white ass pumping

in the moonlight,

and whispered

to himself, “That’s my boy.”

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