True Grit

by John Dorroh

My dad liked sardines and crackers
on fishing trips, and over time they sort of
grew on me. He also liked to crumble
cornbread into a glass Texas tumbler
and stir it up into a pulp, eating it with a spoon.
He often made me Denver omelets before school,
and I felt like I had done something special
when I exited the car and walked into home
room. How many of you had Denver omelets
this morning? I did!

I remember the cold winter morning
that the hydraulic lift at his gas station
collapsed while he was under the car,
on his back, looking up into the guts
of a one-ton piece of steel. He quit
that day. Sold the place to his brother
and squeezed me so tight I thought
that the car had fallen on me.

He witnessed the electrocution of a prisoner
where he worked, got sick and puked
for a day. He walked away from that job
too. It was the burning skin, he said,
the hair was the worst. My mother slept
in another bed for a week or so until
he quit shaking.
I think I liked it best when he took
me fishing after school, just me and him mostly,
sometimes my Uncle Wheeler, who drank way too much
moonshine. We always checked under the boat
for cottonmouths and baby gators who lived
in the slough not so far from the house.
I loved it when the train whooshed by
and shook all of us like we didn’t matter.

© 2022 John Dorroh  All rights reserved.

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