One Last Meaningless Conversation with Dad

The first (and last) time he picked me up at the jail, he gave me 
a cigarette, asked if I was ok, said I could use his shower. 
I said, “thank you,” and watched the wind wrestle the roadside cypresses 
lower. The window defrosting to a clarity I could not make out. Thanks-
giving rain charcoaled the highway’s overcast shush.

Later, showered, calmed, in civilian pants and a pair 
of clean white socks he tossed to me, I lit a second cigarette. Exhaled 
the tension of arrest and the congestion of D pod, 
contagious muscle ache of the county lock-up. Picked up a Nat Geo 
from the table to forget the nothing I knew I had to do. 

“You’re a fuck up,” he said. 

I shuddered. Stared at Europa, a cutaway diagram, an icy shell.  
The room recently mopped, Murphy’s oil after. A crime scene cover-up. 
My nostrils twitched with the scent of oven cleaner: his comment. Mercy. 
I remembered when I was younger