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What I Mean When I Say Truck Driver

By Geffrey Davis

During the last 50 miles back from haul & some
months past my 15th birthday, my father fishes
a stuffed polar bear from a Salvation Army
gift-bin, labeled Boys: 6-10. I can almost see him
approach the decision: cold, a little hungry, not enough

money in his pocket for coffee. He worries
he might fall asleep behind the wheel as his giant,
clumsy love for that small word—son—guides
his gaze to the crudely-sewn fabric of the miniature bear
down at the bottom of the barrel. Seasons have flared

& gone out with little change in his fear of stopping
for too long in any city, where he knows the addict
in him waits, patient as a desert bloom. Meanwhile, me:
his eldest child, the uneasy guardian of the house.
In his absence, I’ve not yet lost my virginity,

but I’ve had fist-fights with grown men & seen
my mother dragging her religious beliefs to the bitter
border of divorce. For years my father’s had trouble
saying no to crack-cocaine & women flowered in cheap
summer dresses. Watch his face as he arrives at last

& stretches the toy out, my mother fixed
on the porch behind me, the word son suddenly heavy
in my father’s mouth, his gray coat gathered
around his shoulders: he’s never looked so small.
We could crush him—we hug him instead.

Added: Friday, October 9, 2015  /  Used with permission. "What I Mean When I Say Truck Driver" from "Revising the Storm," copyright 2014 by Geffrey Davis, BOA Editions, Ltd. Photo by Thomas Sayers Ellis 2013.
Geffrey Davis
Photo courtesy of Thomas Sayers Ellis 2013

Geffrey Davis is the author of Revising the Storm (BOA Editions, 2014), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Other honors include the Anne Halley Poetry Prize, the Dogwood Prize in Poetry, the Wabash Prize for Poetry, the Leonard Steinberg Memorial/Academy of American Poets Prize, nominations for the Pushcart and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and a fellowship from the Cave Canem Foundation. Davis grew up in Tacoma, WA and currently teaches in The Arkansas Programs for Creative Writing & Translation at the University of Arkansas.

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