by Richard Sensenbrenner
My father worked with a machine, fourteen out of twenty-four hours, through winters without suns, clanking hard hat, lunch box, thermos to Mom's morning murmurs, coming or going--Hi or Bye—and still with the spit to play dolls with my sister and make them kiss before dinner. His arms shook as he lifted himself off the living room floor, carefully onto ageing knees.
Long summer days were mine, two mitts and a ball, laces fraying, waiting in the hall among the mingling of forgotten coats, wondering if something important would happen and he wouldn’t be able to play.
Come on, Dad!
Suns dropped like rocks. I threw pop ups, waited for Mom to stop talking so he could come out. He always paused at the door and counted three or something before walking out.
Big arms came around cold and slow at first, along with exhales of breath. I shot balls back fast and hard, to show I could.
Mom’s calls were too soon, the second times counting, and Dad would pick me up with a grunt, sneakers and mitt hanging, and hold me against the sun, checking for purity. He would smile at me, corners of his eyes wrinkling and the eyelids would nod in agreement to some thought in his graying head, as if agreeing this is a good trade.