Paternity

“You son of a bitch.”

That’s what he said.

That’s what the man heard

sitting at the bar.

“You son of a bitch,”

the kid said a second time

when the man at the bar

old enough to be his father

didn’t respond.

You don’t respond right away

to son of a bitch

if you’re sitting at a bar.

You take your time.

You want to turn around

real slow if

you turn around at all

and see who said it,

see if they’re talking to you

and if they are talking to you

it may be a fight

whether you are one or not.

So he started turning

real slow.

“You raped my mother.

I’m your son.”

“So that’s it,” thought the man

half turned from the bar.

This guy is my son.

He looks like me.

“Glad to meet you,” he said.

“Buy you a drink?”

The younger man stood still.

The one with the glass took another

sip and said,

“Looks like you found me.”

Then he said,

“Sure enough do look like me.”

Then he asked,

“How’d you find me?”

“She told me your name.”

The older man nodded.

“How is she?”

“What do you care?”

The empty glass stayed

in the hand of the man

who shook his head

and said just in case

he needed it,

“I didn’t rape her.”

“That’s what she told me.”

“I don’t care what she told you.”

“How do you even know we’re

talking about the same woman?”

The youngster couldn’t keep track

of his anger.

“She didn’t want me to be the father,”

spoke the sire at the bar.

He turned his back to face the mirror

lined with bottles.

“I don’t deny anything,

except I didn’t rape her.”

“I still say you’re a

son of a bitch.”

“Same thing I said to my old man

the day of his Fiftieth Wedding

Anniversary and I meant it.

We all do sooner or later, Sonny.

Sure you don’t want that drink?”