Uninvited Holiday Guest

I don’t know how my resumé found out
we were staying in town for Christmas,
but he pulled up as soon as the girl left
to visit her mother’s side of the family.

He’s still driving the hail-damaged Corolla
with the broken muffler.
I accepted the foil-wrapped plate of assorted cookies
and invited him in for a bowl of soup.

We exchanged the details of our holiday plans
like presidents of small countries
offering economic updates and projected budgets,
implying confidence for growth in the coming year.

He still favors films outside the mainstream
in spite of the isolation that tends to cultivate,
and he was especially enthusiastic about poets
he had recently discovered.

We could tell he’s as curious and idealistic as ever,
and his assets remain primarily intangible.
He’s still second guessing his choices, lacking in confidence,
and haunted by a persistent aversion to boredom and risk.

He sight-read a few carols.
We didn’t point out the shakiness of his Brahms
and he didn’t tell us that our piano
had drifted imperceptibly out of tune.

He seemed underwhelmed by our gifts to each other
and we yawned when he solved my new Rubik’s cube.
When he finally left, we hurried out to see the new
Meryl Streep movie which promised not to resolve at the end.