My Father’s Campers
My father’s campers are parked in a row along the barn.
Four of them and he lives in them all. Yes, all.
One for the toilet,
shower – a little slide of the soap in, let’s say, the
The camper pulled up into the barn shadows is for sleeping.
A third for cooking – a little luncheon on wheels, though
never turn. The
longest, newest, shiniest camper with the magnificent
awning that yawns out over a set of crooked lawn chairs is,
what we shall
call, the socializing camper. In the humidity, the scrabble board wilts,
just a little.
little disjointed house. Imagine, now,
the makings of a good
earthquake. Or rooms
that could not get along. Children
and sent to their rooms.
The divorce of bedrooms. Children
move across town, build more children, add bedrooms,
bedrooms and bedrooms we never build into.
I’d like to keep
this image from you:
father moving between rooms in the sunshine – a glint of
light on his bald,
bald head. At night,
stars reflected in his glasses. And
I’d turn you from or show you then say, Let’s go. Go, go, go
as we all must do.
Leaving a part of us as we go
like when father drives his bathroom down the yard,
toward town, toward another state and country and we don’t
of the happiness of the bathroom, but of the longing of the
left against the barn.
as I empathize with campers,
I consider how love is like a cartoon. A funny, on-the-page
sort of thing that isn’t quite real, yet something I follow,
aimlessly, like a road and as I move toward one town,
I move away from another.
From one room to another,
I wonder if the hygiene camper (at the mercy of its driver)
contemplates whether it can do without the other rooms
as I must do without you.
I tell you, I’d forever sleep in a tub for you. I’d do a lot of things.
Sometimes you have to do without as you do with what you
and what you have to do.
Like when my brother, shopping
with a hungry baby had to pull a jug of milk right off the
and the baby, not knowing how to drink, but hungry, so, so
had to sit in his little spill. Of course he cried like we all cry
when no one knows why and maybe we do or don’t know why or
but that we are all hungry.
The sleep camper cries for the hygiene camper.
I cry for the man because looking at him is like looking
at the sun and my brother’s wife cries because the babies
crying or because the babies grow up right there behind the
and I grow and wonder where my babies are. And the barn,
that big, big barn beyond the campers cries for us all.
And why not
consider crying babies? The daycare
the street sends theirs off in a long stroller – a baby train.
Or they walk the babies chained together – a baby chain gang
and they learn early the drudgery of following another
so closely you don’t even know if you are you or just an
of someone else. An
engine in a machine that could not run without you.
What good are you without that body? And I say,
why don’t you rev up in mine.
Oh, I know very well that some of us are just meant to park.
The cooking camper, for instance, with its motor turned
its underneaths set up on blocks, knows how a little
will keep it alive – a stir of soup, a link of sausage
rolls in its pan – how quiet images of happiness are
But when hygiene camper returns, rolls in, sputters off,
full of road stories and sweat, the others grow scared.
Scared of their own stagnancies. Scared of everything, then,
scared, even, of the barn and the barn grows scared of the
the sun the stars, the stars the campers, the campers the
scrabble board, and the wilting scrabble board grows scared
of its players who press down with their eager little
their little letters then sing out their little words and
points (oh, their points!) like they really are getting the
or that they really have words for any of this.