A Father Letting His Son Pay for Himself

(Based on a photograph taken outside of a movie theater)

Outside the alcove

of the box-office  

the sky is hot white as

the sun, leaning on the hills

like a mountainous counter

melts in its half of the sky

curtained off by the edge

of the theater.

The air is warm water

courtesy of the

Gulf and by way of

Arizona, and it sticks

to skin, and hair is

like the grass missing from

the Mojave.

Beneath the alcove,

the neon Cinemark sign,

night has seeped in early,

fluorescent stars wink in

a mirror sky reflecting the

boy's face back to him,

faceless,

a straw dipped in a glass

of ice water that becomes two

straws.

And the green

five in his smooth

grip crackles

like raw

current.

Father steps

aside and female

lips from red fire

glowing POPCORN

asks: May I help

you?

Out of the corner of

his eye: a statue

before white sifting

into fire that will become

darkness and stars, stands

quietly, but his voice

falls from above, reflected

by the early night,

and the boy

says:

Same as him.

By Frank Perez