I see from your eyes, Dad, my childhood taking place
within arms outstretched and spinning. You think I’ll never let go,
I’ll hold on as long as she wants. I’ll swing my daughter off her feet,
round and round, just to hear that little giggle.
My bones might pop and clack,
but to see her so limber,
I will be young with her.
Sun light flickers as the camera clicks, capturing a Dad and his little girl swimming.
That little girl who clings to her Dad’s back–he swims for them both,
the water from the pool, cooling her barely worn skin.
The sun and trees lean in because they so badly want
to share in their grins–this little girl who loves
her Dad so much; who thinks,
I will never let go.
Dad spins me around in the park. We speed up as he counts: one, two, three!
At his call I release my feet from off the ground. My stretched body
floats up and down, through the air. I am flying with my Dad
at the center of my spinning world. Wind brush
rush, softly caressing, heart flutters, pulsing
pitter patter–then shudder.
My feet connect with soil.
I stutter, then say
getting too big
We leave the park.
I was nine, I believe. I can see him in the kitchen, the tile floor cold
compared to the hot humid room. He is by the stove heating up soup.
He says Soup cools you in hot weather.
I doubt him and his words.
How can soup cool when the air
makes my skin stick to the leather.
Though I doubted him then, I now
eat soup in 90 degree weather.
I lay on the couch and watch as he goes: to work, to a new home,
to a new family.
Every once in a while, I’ll get to comb his hair or
share a piece of our days, but it’s never the same.
He’s too busy or no longer mentally there.
He doesn’t swing me in circles. He doesn’t tell me
to eat soup on those especially warm Florida days.
He warns me about the boys
who will love me.
He makes plans
but calls early to cancel.
He says I’m sorry
and sends a bar of soap and a washcloth.
I see him one week later.
One month passes.
Does he remember? The spinning? The soup? The swimming? He was my Dad but
now he is Father. Perhaps he is a stranger with a link of regrets that tie him
to his fully grown daughter. I know he loves me
and I love him. I still have my memories:
hot soup in 90 degree weather,
my arms outstretched and spinning,
and us swimming in a pool
that used to feel much deeper.
With all these and more,
I will always be his little girl.