Owed to Your Father’s Gold Chain

Since we are already on the topic,
I casually mention that I think we should
name the baby Ajax, & you laugh
so hard that both your shoulders shake

as you mouth an adamant no,
your arms waving wild in front
of your face like some novice
air traffic controller. You later explain

that this is not only quote unquote
a terrible name but also that it makes
you think of innumerable Thursdays
spent cleaning bathrooms at your grandma’s

house. And yes, I know, there must be a joke
about class stratification in there somewhere,
since the name Ajax also makes me think
of that magical white dust in the cardboard

blue box long before it does any ancient
Greek demigod, but I tend to assume
my first thought is not my best thought,
as you now know well. I often attribute

this fact to my sound colonial education,
but am not yet sure what you would call
or think of it. One might say that this,
in fact, is a working definition for love

in a time of general disenchantment. The meticulous
consideration of all that slipped through
the mind’s wet meshwork before, minor
miracles, like the number of bones in a human

hand. How yours unfastens like a memory
when I request an impromptu waltz
across the bar’s threshold & we circle
one another, as if swordsmen, in the low light.

How the next week, you clasp your father’s gold
chain at the back of my neck, call me beautiful
in your inside voice, barely breaking a whisper,
as if you can’t hear the dawn roaring

its way through the bedroom window
just to catch a glimpse of us here,
barely mortal, shimmering at the cusp
of this strange & untamable world.

“Owed to Your Father’s Gold Chain” from OWED by Joshua Bennett, copyright © 2020 by Joshua Bennett. Used by permission of Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.