Goodbye by Tony Gloeggler

Today, I picked Joshua up
from music group. He said
my name soon as I stepped
through the door, tried to run
to me. The therapist stood
in his way, forced him to stay
until he made eye contact,
said goodbye to her assistant,
the other kids. She slowly
walked him over to me,
assured me how much better
he was doing while he tugged
on my arm repeating ‘home’
louder and louder. I thanked her
while we headed out the door,
tried to keep him from jumping
into every puddle, steer him
from bumping into people
as we turned down subway stairs.
Joshua took a window seat,
got on his knees and traced
the outline of his face as we rode.
I finger counted the six stops
to Hamilton Parkway, promised
that his mom would be waiting
for him. When the train rose
out of the ground, climbed up
into the cloudless sky, he ran
to the front door. I stood behind
him, played with his hair as all
of Red Hook spread beneath us.

I glanced at the other riders,
curious whether they could tell
something was wrong with Joshua
then wondered what he was thinking,
if his brain could hold anything
other than shapes and colors
flying past, the feel of glass
against his fingertips, the thought
that his mommy would be waiting
three, now two, stations away.
I imagined what he would do
if we stayed on longer, rode out
to Coney Island. Would he stop
crying and fighting long enough
to see or hear, smell, the ocean?
Would he run across the sand
like the summer before, strip
down to his shorts? Jump
and play in the waves until
the last light leaves the sky?

The closets are empty
and piles of packed boxes
line the walls of his house,
but I’m not sure Joshua knows
that this means he’s moving
back to Maine in the morning.
I don’t know if he can grasp
the concept of missing someone
or understand how hard
it is for me to keep from crying.
He has no idea that I met him
three years ago. I went
with Helen to pick him up
from school one afternoon.
The Sunday after, finished
with my bowl of oatmeal,
I was watching her lift
her teacup to her lips
when I realized I wanted
to spend my life with her
and it scared me to death.
I don’t know what Joshua
remembers about Maine,
about moving to Brooklyn;
if he knows when things started
to fall apart or why me and his mom
couldn’t find a way to stay together;
if he remembers that I moved
down the block, kept visiting him
while everyone I know told me
to let go and move on,
that I didn’t owe him a thing,
and no one seemed to accept
or understand I love Joshua,
that the way he will never fit
in the world reminds me of me
and I wish he was my son,
my eight year old boy.
My, my, mine.

Tony Gloeggler

Tony Gloeggler is a life long resident of NYC’s boroughs and manages group homes for the developmentally disabled in Brooklyn. His poems have been nominated for Pushcarts a handful of times and would like to know who he needs to strong arm to have a chance to actually get one. His first chapbook ONE ON ONE won the Pearl Poetry Prize in 1998. He has published two full length collections (ONE WISH LEFT/Pavement Saw Press and THE LAST LIE/NYQ Books). Two collections were released near the end of 2015: A full length with NYQ Books titled UNTIL THE LAST LIGHT LEAVES and a ‘Duo’ with the photographer Marco North from Bittersweet Editions. Both books focus on his 35 years working with the developmentally disabled and his connection with the autistic son of an ex girlfriend.

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