Photo by Carl Van Vechten, 1959
It's only fair that I try to do my assignment from yesterday. Bear with me. I feel like doing something prosy.
The Hello Kitty Band-Aid Poem
"Do you think you'll ever amount to anything?" my dad used to say to me. I'd be sitting on the hearth beside his chair at some family gathering. He'd hold his hand out and I'd drop mine onto it, palm to palm. "No," I would say. "I won't ever amount to anything."
I have a Hello Kitty Band-Aid on my thumb. I was peeling potatoes and quarreling with my husband and then, blood everywhere.
Now I've been banished from the kitchen. Two of my daughters, impressed with the amount of blood my thumb produced, made a fuss over me. One brought a fresh paper towel. The other brought a Band-Aid. "It's Hello Kitty," she said. "That should make you feel better."
My husband takes a break from grating potatoes. "It's good it was your left hand," he says. "Do you want to take a painkiller?"
I do feel better. I pick up Carson McCullers' A Member of the Wedding and find my place.
Outside, it's raining.
My youngest daughter's soccer team won today and she did a perfect somersault when she collided with another player. It wasn't raining then.
During the game I took a picture of a big stump beside the soccer field. A huckleberry bush grew from its top. I thought about Dad, who could have told me what kind of tree the stump was from, and how long ago it had been cut.
The rain falls harder and my girls run outside to see. Their dad stands at the top of the stairs and yells after them, "Don't get wet."
Frankie, in A Member of the Wedding, has gotten too big to sleep with her father. "Who is this long-legged blunderbuss trying to climb into my bed?" I remember when my mother told me to quit sitting on Dad's lap.
I hold the novel in my lap and I'm so sad I can't read anymore.
In a dream, two nights ago, Dad showed up, looking great. I hugged him so hard. I told him I loved him and he said, "I know." We were standing in the woods, under huge evergreens, and yellow light sifted over us.
"Do you think you'll ever amount to anything?" he used to say to me. I'd be sitting on the hearth beside his chair and he'd hold his hand out and I'd drop mine onto it, palm to palm. My Hello Kitty Band-Aid would have made him frown and shake his head, all in jest. How is it that I knew how pleased he was with me?
"No, " I'd say, exaggerating my tone for effect. "I'll never amount to anything."