David G. Walker

Taking My Son’s Temperature

Okay
is a well you drop a pebble
in to see if there’s water

beneath the thicket of distance.
It’s a word stuffed beneath
our tongues like dirty laundry

eager for air. And it’s something
I promise my wife too often
when her worries flurry

upon our nightstand in dim
lighting. I’m okay. We’re okay.
He’s okay. When my son was

soaking through his pajamas,
that word became an itch
we clawed to the bone.

We became clumsy stenographers
to the universe – omitting
words like will be and hopefully.

Assuring, when we were really asking.
We doused washcloths
in those four letters and prayed

they would translate, even as
water evaporated off his skin.
When he’s a teenager, that word

will carry resignation. It will
emit annoyance and anger.
It will be a wagged finger

at the edges of a ghost story
bewaring and beckoning
trespassers: Keep Out!

But there is also a salve
in okay. A rope longer
than the hole you find

yourself in. Say it enough
and you will finally believe
that you meant it all along.

David G. Walker is a husband, father, and teacher. He holds an MFA in Poetry from Southern Connecticut State University and his work most recently appears in PANK, Thistle, Poetry Breakfast, After the Pause, and Poets Reading the News, among others. He is also the founding editor for Golden Walkman Magazine and is the author of three poetry chapbooks.

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