Listening to every heart
Konrad’s Odyssey, II
Travis felt like an intruder, just like the time he had
intruded when their father had been alive,
drunk, sullen, vindictive against
still, to this day, he harbored a memory that he wasn’t sure
had been remembered, or forgotten,
by this crew of blood ties.
Everything would set Konrad Senior off, everything.
You sneezed? He’d yell. You whispered? He’d slap.
The town knew.
The kids knew the town heard.
Travis had been small, like Iambe,
Jake, he had been the older, Konrad, then Iambe, Dillon…
Jake, what? Had he been mad because
Konrad had inherited that sluggard’s name?
The mother…she had escaped early, easily,
a silky golden slip of tongue led to a
slap that had bounced her off
a wall, and she never
Dillon had been the baby…the one who had
been given away…
but none of the others ever forgot, nor let her
forget…that she had them.
Even if they had all been seeded by him, they still had
Her in them, and their mother had good,
very special, just wrong in her character
Clouds blew up, over, billowed, curled, followed
Konrad pulled into the alley, the back door, so to speak,
not wanting to raise dust in the front, no
signal, as it were, just walk in quiet-like,
assess, maybe, first,
by a window spy beforehand.
There they were.
All of them.
Konrad hoped for the best,
but then, he always did.
That’s why Jake flattened him once. Touching
the scar Jake had remembered him with
on his chin, he crammed back his own bile,
and heaved his last big fear.
The screen door announced him,
thunder rumbled behind him
Every pair of eyes
drew up to Konrad’s height, for a fleeting
moment, he only wished
they were all
The tremble of fright-flight fled
through his sinews, down into his boots,
scattering like loose marbles
across Iambe’s wood floor, his bones were
shaking so hard…
“What,” Iambe uttered,
“is so all damned fired important that we ALL
have to sit here?”
Konrad steeled, pulled the certificate
out of his vest pocket,
flipped it, like a winning Ace of Spades,
onto the table in front of him
surrounded by them,
and like poker players,
their eyes followed.
Travis winced. Konrad had told him. He waited.
Dillon picked it up,
read it, and walked out the door,
stood on the porch, and hung her head, then
as if she had suddenly taken to liquor,
began to dance on the porch.
Jake picked up the crumbling certificate next,
spit, swore, and slammed the chair back,
Iambe was last,
and Travis watched as her breasts
rose in the heaviest sigh he was sure he would
ever see her heave, and let go,
then he stood, backed off to the hall,
but still, because of Konrad,
stood in shadows, watched, waiting,
as Iambe stood, trembling, as decades swept over
her, an aplomb of family settling on her,
if only for an instant,
Konrad watching, knowing this was only
a bandaid of the thinnest kind,
knowing that what had been sown, would only reap
a thin harvest,
she came up to him, wrapped her arms around his neck,
saying, in a kitten sort of cry,
“Now, now, you can be Konrad”.
He felt her love. He knew it was momentary.
Scars covered them all.
He backed up after she loosed her arms,
stepped away, tipped his hat, said,
“I always was…”
The thunder rumbled,
the rain poured,
Travis opened the screen door and let Konrad run.
[This message has been edited by Sunshine (02-13-2003 10:56 PM).]