204. Candy

James came home, books
Strapped across his shoulder,
Bound by Tom’s old belt.
He swung them down, heard
Riah in the kitchen.
Tom sat behind the paper,
Head unseen.
“Hey, Dad.”
“Hmm.”

James frowned–
Dad hardly spoke!–
And edged in closer.
The pages did not bend.
Then he spied it–
“Daddy! Dad–what’s that?”
A small net sack, laid
On the dining table. It was
Filled with yellow mounds.
“Hmm?” Tom coughed and rustled.
He knows, James thought,
Sure does!
The paper fell,
And Tom gave James a smile
That fairly dazzled–
“Why,
Lemon balls, that’s what.”

“For me?”
“Guess so.”
“How come?”
Thomas stretched, his
Left arm, then his right.
“Oh, I got to have a reason?
I can eat them,
If you want….”
“No!” James scooted over,
“Thanks!”
He picked the sack up,
Heavy in his hand.
The white net bulged
With candies, fragrant,
Pale, and sour-sweet,
Warm to the eye–
James licked his lips.

“We got refinanced.”
James untied
The bag, slipped out
Two candies. He popped one
Inside each cheek–
They rolled and clicked.
Well, that word sounded
Fine. Sure did.
“Refinanced”: why,
It sounded grand:
“That’s great!”
“Changes all our plans here,
That’s for darn sure,”
Thomas nodded.

But as Tom watched
The boy, to his
Surprise, he saw a shadow
Cross James’ face.
Tom tracked its slow advance:
What could this mean?
With cheeks pouched out,
James frowned and ruminated,
Sucking on the candies
Lolling on his tongue.
“Dad–
How it’ll be?–
Like back before the storms?
You won’t stay in the house,
You’ll leave and farm?
Weekends, when we play?
And night-time
When we read–
You’ll farm instead?”
Tom stared.

James persevered, a string
Of candy down his chin:
“Dad, I’ll go with you, then.
I’m older now–
I’m through with school!
Used to, you wouldn’t
Finish till real late.
I’d be in bed,
I couldn’t stay awake.
Ma’d be there in the morning.
You’d be gone.”

Fluttering,
The paper hit the floor.
Buy your son some
Candy, Thomas thought:
Don’t it seem like
Such a simple thing?

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