Lost Habitat

He tallies the twenty dollars
he borrowed for his uncontested divorce.

He adds to the bill his name
carved in the Catholic school desk

the siren from the copper mine
the wail that sent him to his knees praying

for fathers trapped in a collapsed shaft
bound for his father’s funeral home.

He retraces his childhood paper route.
The frigid mornings carrying the news

to the old men at the Social Club
shaking their heads over cups of bitter coffee.

And after he swallows the hair of the dog
he unfolds his old receipts pausing to remember

the forgetting at the Rainbow Grill, quarter beers,
the neon glow rising behind the glass block bar.

The promise found in the orange light settling
in the lap of a long legged girl and her rising skirt.

And he recounts the escape from his town.
The escape from growing up to be his father.

Tonight he is lost in the exodus. Cold and homeless
under a bridge off Dylan’s highway sixty-one,

where a tug navigates downriver, rumbles
and groans its own I.O.U.s to a string of barges.