by Doug Jennette
When is Daddy coming home?
He went to work, and now he’s gone.
Before he left he tucked me in
and pulled the sheet up under my chin
and kissed me once on top of my head-
now I’m hearing people say
I heard some cars out in the street
and saw blue lights from my window seat,
and the sound of feet up the wooden stairs
left me feeling awful scared.
The man in blue said Daddy ran a red light
while on the way in the night
to his job at the freight yard.
And the thing in Daddy’s hand looked a lot like
a gun, but turned out to be his lunch box instead-
so now he’s dead.
Momma’s voice was all loud and hurt, she cried
out, saying “ya’ll killed my man, and a father too.
What’s a woman supposed to do?”
When Momma comes into my room, she picks
me up, and holds me close and tight,
and her body shakes as her tears fall down
on top of my head,
where Daddy’s kiss still lives.
I’m a boy of four
and don’t know how to help Momma more,
except be nice and don’t ask too much about Daddy.
‘Cause when I do, Momma cries and shakes,
and I lie awake at night
wondering what it will take
to make things right, again. I miss him.
Momma says I’m the man now,
but I don’t know how
or even what that means, except
maybe that I don’t run red lights
or carry a lunch box,
or I might end up gone and dead