Portrait with Money
At the end of the day, my father is tired.
He sighs over his newspaper and pushes
the cold dinner around on his plate.
Because he works late, he eats alone.
Even my mother will not sit with him.
She is tired, too, from her day at the office
and is folding clothes or making lunches
for tomorrow or is already asleep
in front of the chuckling television set.
As young as I am, I know about money:
How there is never enough, how it causes
crying and fights. On payday, I know
happiness again-- a new pair
of saddle shoes, a movie after school,
the red plaid skirt on the beautiful girl
in the Sears catalogue, page three-sixty-two.
When my father goes to bed at night
he leaves his wallet on the hall table.
Most often, there is nothing in it
but a couple of ones or fives.
In the plastic window for photographs
there is a picture of him and me when I was one.
We look so happy together. I hold him
so tightly on the arm and neck
there's no space between us,
but he hasn't started to mind. Somehow,
small and fair and held so close, I can see
how I could look like a growth on him, something
permanent and needy, something he didn't ask for
but is learning to live with.
~ Kate Daniels