by Spoon Jackson

The old round tin tub
That lay next to the pot-belly stove
Where mother washed our clothes and bodies
Has long since rusted.

Father stays at home now
But he didn't when Mother was there.

I stood by the phone, thinking of football--
A voice inside told me to call home.

My father answered the phone.
We haven't spoken in thirteen years.
His voice was not as strong as I remembered,
And the two or three minute talk, the longest ever.

I am not the boy he knew then. I am not the boy
I knew then.

He is not the father I feared years ago.
He is not the father I hated
When I saw him out with girls my age, leaving
Mother at home.

Today I forgave him.
I don't hate him anymore.
He is old now and dying.
It was the last chance to hear each other.

He hurries and hands the phone to my brother
Who speaks of the end of a relationship.
Love's fall-out--its fall from grace.

I say, "There are ten women to each man."
He sighs and says, "I just don't want any woman
. . . I am particular."

Spoon Jackson is an inmate at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo. Following a depression in 1986, he realized he needed something new in his life. He signed up for a class in poetry. Since that time he has produced short stories and plays in addition to poems. He has been published in numerous magazines and journals, including the Tule Review and Essence.