Dale Wisely

A Book of Saturdays


I hadn’t liked the song and was fiddling with the radio when the bicycle and rider appeared, separated, and everything crumpled to the curb. Wife, home, job and a boy named Jonas. I hadn’t liked the song. Jonas and I met at his fifth cervical vertebra.


She and her mother hug and, through the door, my ex waves vaguely at me. A single lift of arm, aborted and pushed down with haste. My daughter grins and half-runs to my car, hopping twice along the way. It’s restrained joy. It’s joy for me and it’s restraint for her mother, who watches from the window.


My lawyer preferred sports analogies. Time for the Hail Mary. Let’s go huddle at half time. Late in the game it’s all about points. Late in the game it was all about how much of my life I was entitled to keep. I rooted, silently, for the plaintiffs. I didn’t have my head in the game.


It’s a movie, usually, and ice cream. Nothing overnight by decree. I wait for her to grow bored by the routine but that never comes. One Saturday in October, I saw that for her the routine is the whole point. I recommended tacos instead of ice cream and she suddenly looked anxious.


I read about an artist who walked around in crowds, saying to strangers, It’s not your fault. Most were confused, startled, annoyed. It’s not your fault. Some thank him. Some weep and embrace the artist and refuse to let go. Others, said the artist, turn away as if afraid.


Each Saturday, while soda and popcorn ads fill the screen in the multiplex, she comes closer to asking. A box of popcorn has a face, arms and legs. Sings and dances across the screen. She will want to know if it was my fault. When she does ask, I imagine that the answer I rehearse will not come. I will tell the truth into her right ear and will lie into her left.

Dale Wisely founded and is the general editor of RIGHT HAND POINTING. With Howie Good, he edits prose poem chapbooks for WHITE KNUCKLE PRESS, which he and Howie co-founded.
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