At the kitchen table with my parents,
drinking coffee and looking out the window,
watching birds and morning sun on water,
Dad at one end in his pocket T-shirt,
Mom to the side still in her pink night dress,
We discuss the weather, nice for December.
Mom’s made me her take on French toast
after choosing yoghurt for herself;
Dad has a cigarette in lieu of food.
It’s a scene we’ve acted many times before,
its poignancy increasing as we age.
Last night, we watched a TV program
about the influence of Sherlock Holmes
on the development of forensic science;
Locard’s principle of exchange
says that with any objects making contact,
each of them leaves traces where it touches.
In me, my parents’ residue has seeded
a tolerance for difference even wider
than they could have intended, even imagined,
but what dust from me on them has settled?
T. Allen Culpepper