205 Bistro

By: Brock Guthrie

Converted historic train station—perfect place
to sit with my family at this reclaimed farmhouse table 
in view of the corrugated-metal-paneled bar
with its bowls of hardboiled eggs 
instead of pretzels or peanuts
and to observe, with the intent to eventually eat, 
this grilled watermelon salad
while waiting for my herb-crusted duck
which was free-ranged in nearby Marengo County 
as Mina redacts with purple crayon
any semblance of the comical panda 
on her coloring placemat
and Brooke says Manny kicked her kidneys 
from inside her thirty-week womb. But look:

there goes Dennis, father of three, newly divorced 
from his wife of fifteen years, and with him’s
old Pete, engaged to a woman we haven’t yet
seen proof of, each carrying a stein of golden lager into
the warm Thursday evening
of the spring-dappled beer garden
to watch, no doubt, underdog Auburn
take on top-seed UNC in the Sweet 16
on the bistro’s new 85-inch 4K Ultra HDTV.

Few things are better for sports fans
than drinking and watching a big game with friends.
It’s a breezy freedom feeling
like a fast-break steal, a three-point fadeaway so true 
you check the crowd to make sure it’s good. Breeze
of three childless hours. Four with a phone call? Breeze
of one who carries steins out of bistros because 
you’re so beyond bistro you’re beer garden.
Breezier at least than Brock there with family and crayons 
fixing to eat a Marengo duck. Marengo duck.
Saying that to himself until it becomes strange 
like a phrase he wants to force into a poem—
“encumbered by velvet”—

as Brooke pulls his hand to her stomach 
because Manny kicked again. May he be 
a big boy. Large-hearted like his mother, 
broad-skulled like his father, big laugher 
like his sister. An athlete if he chooses.
Scholar, musician. Piano, mandolin. Breezy and
mostly unencumbered for thirty-five years give
or take, followed by an easing into
and a studied acceptance of 
a cramped kind of velvetdom
is all I’m asking for here.

Brock Guthrie is the author of Contemplative Man (Sibling Rivalry, 2014). His poems appear in Los Angeles ReviewRattleShrewThe SouthernReview, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Athens, Ohio, he now lives in Tuscaloosa and teaches at the University of Alabama.

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