At age nine, half the age when he
would leave home for good, Michael
still believed in Santa Claus. His dark-eyed
soulful look was still trusting and sweet.
His father, a small town attorney campaigning
in five Illinois counties for judge that summer,
joked that NewYork City newspapers, where
we were headed for a family vacation, wouldn’t
know he, the candidate, was coming to town.
Mike naively said, Dad, just give them a call
and tell them you’re here now. Guffaw.
Mike left in a huff one night during his senior year,
all his necessities stuffed in a garbage bag slung
over his back; left home and never moved back
because his parents wouldn’t cut him any more
slack. Went to live with friends, one after another.
Moved around a lot. Lost good jobs. Tested both
his kids and marriage. Aged his parents. Walked
away from debts. Forgot what it was to be rooted.
We couldn’t read the look in his eyes as he took
what he wanted eluding the price, ignoring the risks.
His reply was always slick. Fooled everyone,
including himself. But in the end, the law won.
first published in BEHIND PRISON WALLS Chapbook
©2011 Bonnie Manion