Apr/May 2004 Poetry

How to Survive on a Distant Planet

by Thomas D. Reynolds

Art by Janet L. Snell


How to Survive on a Distant Planet

He's not here at the moment.
He took the car to the garage
to have the shocks replaced.

He'll be back within the hour
after he picks up Peg from preschool
and mails a couple bills.

I don't know what I'd do without him,
or what life was like before the crash,
before he walked out of the tall grass,

his right arm burned from the wreck,
thick folds of neck skin still smoking,
and began waxing the sedan.

Terrified, we watched him work,
and after he chopped a load of firewood,
cleaned the gutters, and mowed the lawn,

we invited him in for a bowl of popcorn.
He had stopped smoking then but still smelled,
a bitter scent like scorched beans.

We drank pop and watched movies till midnight.
He hated "Out of Africa" but loved "Titanic,"
curling his gray tail around his hips.

My son Danny took him to his bedroom
and popped a balloon in his long thin face,
the way a five year old says, "You're neat!"

My daughter rode his scaly back to bed,
holding her nose but having a marvelous time,
singing "Bony Marony" while playing spoons.

In the morning he walked down over the hill,
picked up what was left of his personal items,
a large metal box and a charred black coat.

Later he pored over my unbalanced checkbook,
while staring coldly at my ex-husband's picture,
and then ran some dishwater.


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