My son stands in the bathroom doorway
head cocked to one side, a towel draped
over a bare shoulder, arms crossed, eyes
rolled high in the pose of impatient youth.
He's caught me with a face of meringue
my fingers balancing the razorblade like
a stencil. I remember watching my father
shave, his focused eyes and precise cuts,
the way he'd emerge from the fog a new
man even more mysterious than the one
before. In his silence I learned to listen by
the twirling spew of shaving cream, the hazy
stupor of shower steam, the nasal sting of
aftershave long into afternoon. Searching
his scent like the gaps in a forgotten dream,
tracking the breathless dive of a streaking star.
My son's eyes sway lazily down and meet
mine in murky glass. I predictably say nothing
seeing clearly at the same moment the boy
I once was and the man I must appear to be.
Merge of daylight and night, flame and ice fused,
luminous vapor, hiss of the cooled rock awakening.

Rick Marlatt

About the poet: Rick Marlatt teaches English in Nebraska. His previous publications include Hamilton Stone Review, Blue House, Trillium, Slow Trains, Language and Culture, Words-Myth, Events Weekly, The Carillon, The Reynolds Review, Prairie Poetry, The Bumbershoot Annual, and the University of Nebraska Research Journal. Marlatt performs prolifically, most recently as the featured poet at the Nebraska State Reading Association annual conference this spring.