Afternoon with Sofia ~ Joseph Gross



She takes the rubbed-soft cover from me and says
“The little girl took the book from her daddy
and then she went over to the other books she had.”
The way she blurs narrative and a real afternoon
gives us the sparkle of time in abeyance, the swagger
of characters who stay true to their natures,
and even their lines, day and night, show after show, never
wondering if they’d screwed this thing up from the start,
if the project was doomed in its code all along,
if the mortgage is late or their prostate bloating,
if the wiring they did might one night kill them all.
The suggestion of spectators following our story
makes me feel so much more capable of sacrifice,
which I say because for an hour I’ve been thinking
of pencils and poems and correspondences ignored,
until now, the expectant eyes of audience assist
and I’m the stable, consistent father, as well
the agent of exuberance, of peanut butter and dancing.
I remember once thinking, before I met my wife,
that if the evening’s second drink could always be in hand,
I could stay in love with just about anyone,
and this condition may be equally short-lived,
this swell of correctness that company brings,
but I run on hope and hope’s wispy fumes
and the knowledge that even if someday she hates
her mercurial spirit, her corkscrewing hair,
at least they’ll be things undeniably from me,
things given freely, unchecked, pure.