Andrew Hudgins

Johnny

Come on, Johnny.
Johnny, come on!
We sang it like a song,
tugging his limp arms,
pulling his belt,
pushing two-handed
his butt, trying
to lead Johnny back
to the house, big
dumb ox —
and he kept stepping
aside with his mouth
open and his head
tilted back,
and that afternoon
there was something
white, milky,
in the sink so I cracked
an egg and let it
slip to the bottom,
the yolk sliding
in the milk that wasn’t
milk like a yellow
ship gently scuttled
—the egg being, I
discovered, an egg
Mama’d saved
to wash her hair with —
and Daddy, I thought
Daddy’d yell
and maybe smack us
for leaving Johnny,
staring at the sky
long after the plane
had flown on and its vapor
feathered into blue
but the big deal, it
turns out, was the egg,
for which Mama slapped me,
and Daddy just
slipped out while she
was yelling, and there was
a circle thing
going on because
Daddy was singing
Come on, Johnny.
Johnny, come on,

which, as I was bawling,
Mama sang too,
till they closed the bedroom
door and, ordered
to feed Johnny,
I built him a stack
of soda crackers
and sardines, filched
one of his fish,
and since he didn’t notice,
gave it back.