He spoke of how one day he tried to find
distraction by cleaning out his attic.
As though he could. Up there he came upon
his son’s toy Tonka tractor, pocked by rust.
It seemed a relic from an ancient age
but something too the boy might use right then.
As though he could. “That was my overdose,”
he said, but smiled, then told me how it felt
as hard to look away from that plaything

as to lift great weights the way he could do
long years ago. He kept on lowering
the toy’s bucket loader then lifting it,
like digging something up. And he knew what.
“I can just imagine.” So I told him.
As though I could. His son wore one earring.
It sat in a dish on the mantelpiece.
He said, “Go figure. It doesn’t crush me
the way that stinking yellow tractor does

Once his son fell from drugs, he claimed, things came
to him as metaphors so stale he wished
that he could crush them all. As though he could.
Rainfall, nightfall, dead leaves that fall each fall,
rivers falling into awful ocean.
“On and on,” he sighed. My response was slight
as the year’s first flakes, which barely covered
the ground as they fell. I repeated it:
“I can just imagine.” As though I could.