By Perry Nicholas
Everything smelled of paint thinner,
to some degree, around my father
and our house. A foreign perfume,
or a man's spicy cologne.
It circulated down the driveway
from the beds of tired work trucks
to the can-full garage, through the yard,
never empty enough to play in.
There was a lone lilac bush
just on the other side of our fence,
begging me to breathe in her fragrance
every morning, but instead, I rose
before the others to inhale my father
as he loaded paint on the pickup
with one hand, pulled lovingly
on his non-filters with the other.
Cigarettes, paint fumes, and stale whiskey...
an intoxicating concoction of scents.
They followed him day and night,
and I respected his aura of thinner.
It hung everywhere in the air,
just as a father's force lingers
forever heavy in a man's life.
Strange how our jobs seep out
of us unnoticed, undetected
except to those who need us.
I wonder if I smell of lead pencils,
new paper, coffee, and chalk.
PERRY NICHOLAS will read from his work at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Empire State College, 2875 Union Road, Cheektowaga, as sponsored by the Empire State College/Erie Community College Reading Series. He is an English professor at Erie Community College North Campus, where he was awarded the 2008 SUNY Chancellor's Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities. Nicholas is the author of two chapbooks of poems and a full-length collection "The River of You" (Foot Hills Publishing, 2009). His forthcoming collection, "What the World Sees," will be published this fall by Saddle Road Press.