Tyler Kline

The Water Tower

The more he looks at it
it’s less like his father
and more like a collection of fathers
stacked one on top another
and when one fidgets
or shifts his weight
from one leg to the other
the brush of stubble
against stubble so loud
the town doesn’t sleep
they set out to climb it
to reach the spot where
they dangle their legs
over the cool summer night
bullshit about whatever
is on their minds
the fathers are carefully trying
to listen through the echoes
sneakers against steel
like gunshots
off in a distant field
wondering if it’s their son
climbing atop them
writing his initials
or perhaps bold enough
to write his full name
next to a date that will
already seem far into the past
at the time he caps
the permanent marker
and climbs down
to rejoin the world
empties sticking out
of their back pockets
one boy cracking a joke
don’t forget to leave one for dad
another asking something
they all have been thinking
do they open it up
drink from what’s inside
I think it’s for emergencies
a tall blonde boy responds
and the others accept it as fact
though a few still wonder
which storm once filled
its dark attic lungs.

Tyler Kline is a high school English teacher living in Pennsylvania. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets, Nashville Review, The Southeast Review, and Passages North.