For a long time I've wanted my obnoxious shadow to fade.
Toy trucks, baseball cards, clutter with gum on the chairs.
Little boy running to mom; myself fighting with her.
He wrestles with dad; I want to box the old man.
He pretends to shave, while I paste toilet paper on my bloody face.
Recently I've noticed mother is actually pretty.
What does he notice? What does he think?
Who's younger? Who's older?

Mom demands obedience.
I slam the door and storm out.
He sneaks back for her kiss.

And then there was Doris in the park.
The little pest was there trying to get to make animal sounds,
and urging me to tickle her.
Emily was better, and he was late to the park.
Until he came, I enjoyed other urges.

For a year he hasn't cluttered the floor with toys.
I've been seeing him less and less.
But today I'm giving in to hide-and-seek.
I cover my eyes and count to ten.
Ready or not, ready or not.
He's not behind the chair or couch,
or with mom in the kitchen or dad in the garage.
Perhaps behind the mirror?
No, it's only me and I'm still it.
Ready or not.
I rub my peach-fuzz beard and become nervous.

Richard Fein

If you've any comments on this poem, Richard Fein would be pleased to hear from you.

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