My mother’s lover takes me for a walk.
“Your father,” he tells me, “is the most
intelligent person I know, but he never
learned to make money. Impractical.
Don’t be like him.” When I object
that he makes a living, my mother’s lover
stops me with a long finger at his lips.
“She has to work for her cousin, then
cook and clean. It’s not right. You must
use your education wisely. You must earn.”
But I screw up, become a professor, so
my wife has to work. She becomes a
professor too. One day I bring my small
sons to class, introduce them as the Provost
and the Dean of the College of Humanities
and Fine Arts. The students find this hilarious
but my sons take it deep into the shadows
of their hearts. In the playroom, they hold
meetings from which my wife and I are
excluded, since we’re just faculty.
They go to pretend conferences, make top
down decisions. Now the money is rolling in.
We convert it all to gold, and one midsummer’s
eve, we melt it down and forge a golden calf,
whose graceful horns glint above the river,
shafts of light brushing the water’s golden face.