Jon Loomis


There’s a Lego Empire State building there,
and a Lego French Quarter with what you hope
are tiny Lego prostitutes. There’s a Lego

White House, and a huge Lego head of
Albert Einstein—Lego every damn thing
until you just want to cut your own throat.

But the kids like it, especially Henry, who’s six—
he likes the Lego octopus, the little boats
in their canal. So you keep your mouth shut

even though you can’t get a drink
at these places and it’s dangerously close
to cocktail hour, when at last your wife,

God bless her, says, Okay, let’s hit the gift shop,
which is just like every gift shop everywhere
except it’s wall-to-wall Legos, which is the whole

point, the thing you’ve paid three hundred dollars
to do. Your kids have both picked out a not-too-
expensive thing (a Lego helicopter for Henry,

and for Ava a Lego girl with her Lego horse),
and you’re standing there at the register
with your Visa card out when the floor drops

a few inches and turns for a moment to sponge,
the countertop tips, and something behind you
goes crash, and of course you think

Henry has broken some pricey Lego object,
what a boy of six reflexively does. Henry,
you say, Henry, God damn it, what did you do?

And the teenage girl at the register looks at you,
eyes wide, surprised by how stupid you are,
even judged against the general run

of gift shop customers. That
was an earthquake
, she says. It wasn’t your son.
He didn’t do anything wrong. And of course

you think of your father, long gone,
nothing left but his voice in your mouth.
How old were you, then? When you swore

you’d never be like him?