Thursday Ritual by Gary Lark

Brad backs the pickup across the yard
in line with the top step
and lays down 2-by-12s to bridge the gap.
His father watches from the window.
This is a Thursday ritual, going to town.
His father gets the door open
and navigates his electric wheelchair
to the end of the boards.
“Far enough,” Brad hollers.
After the near disaster of the first time,
when his father tried to run it on his own,
Brad shifts the chair to its lowest setting
and moves it across, centering it in the bed.
He ties it off with rope to the four corners, tight.
Brad doesn’t go over forty
but the old man loves the rush.
There’s still some rascal in him
and Brad guesses some beagle.
A rain poncho helps at times,
but snow is out.
His father traverses Fairhaven market,
Malan’s hardware and Brandy’s Café,
saying hello and telling the same joke
in each place.
The loading dock at the back of the library
is the launching pad for home.
Houses pass. Trees and pasture,
there’s a new truck by Harmon’s barn,
open fields, the bustle of town,
and the ride.