I walk past Erin’s house at dusk
and there she is at her kitchen table,
working on her book about the Reformation.

She needs to finish it if she wants to get tenure,
but it’s slow going because being a single mom
is very difficult what with child care and cooking dinner
and going to teach her courses on the Reformation,
which I can see her writing about right now,
her face attractive yet harried in the glow
of her laptop as she searches for le mot juste.

Meanwhile Andrew, her nine-year-old son,
shoots forlorn baskets in the driveway
under the fatherless hoop bolted to the garage
by the father now remarried and living in Dayton,
as Andrew makes a move, a crossover dribble,
against the ghost father guarding him, just as I did
when I was nine, my daddy so immensely dead,
my mother inside looking harried and scared,
studying thick frightening books for her realtor’s exam.

And although I hardly know Erin,
I feel I should walk up, knock on her door,
and when she opens it (looking harried,
apologizing for the mess) ask her to marry me.
And she will smile with relief and say
yes, of course, what took you so long,
and she’ll finish her chapter on the Reformation
and start frying up some pork chops for us
as I walk out to the driveway and exorcise
the ghost father with my amazing Larry Bird jump shot,
and tomorrow I’ll mow the lawn and maybe
build a bird house with the power tools slumbering
on the basement workbench where the ghost
father left them on his way to Dayton.

I will fill the void, having left voids of my own,
except that my own wife and son are waiting
down the street for me to come home for dinner,
and so I just walk on by, leaving the void unfilled,
as Erin brushes her hair from her face and types out
a further contribution to the body of scholarship
concerning the Reformation, and Andrew
sinks a beautiful jumper in the gloom.

—George Bilgere


George Bilgere is the author of six poetry collections. His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including Ploughshares, the Kenyon Review, and the Best American Poetry series. He teaches at John Carroll University in Cleveland.