Sweat and sunscreen scents clung to sun faded jeans.
Grass stained denim and dirt traded for charcoal, oil paints,
And fine plaster spread on the red living room carpet.
He’d pose me, just so, leaving big charcoal fingerprints
That cover half my shoulders; I’d leave them there all day.
Through throw back ‘70’s specs he’d gauge--
Scritch scratch scratch – gray charcoal smears white
Well past the time my tiny toes start to tingle.
My little neck craned to glimpse the drawn picture,
But with a sharp look I’d stand straight and still,
My jaw clenched so serious not to mess up. Daddy’s
Lips would curl and twitch, charcoal dropped and quick
Tickled to see me smile, laugh and squirm with no
Defense practice sparring; right jab, reverse, hook,
Light contact force fast feet for a challenge
His worn tennis shoe taps my rear foot, pivot.
A slight crooked smile then quick jerk grabs
My lead hand against dropping my guard,
Then steps on my toes to send me down tumbling.
My butt bruised, his grin widens as next time I shift back.
Throwing jabs I can block, my playful yelps cut the
Silence as he waits in the old oak rocking chair.
I ascend the stairs slowly to not make a sound;
Caught -- his half missing finger tap-tapping the arm.
My mom’s eyes are hazel; dad’s eyes are brown,
Unblinking, our eyes reflect, glares bulge,
To burst like the little blue vein above his right eye.
Rising, no one overshadows his 5 foot 10 frame.
A quiet rumble at first, then the ocean roars in his voice.
I shirk for a second then stand squared to face him
From opposite living room corners I scream my defense.
No tears tolerated or shed with tension spread
Thick Jif toast and orange juice made for our breakfast.
His rough, calloused hand raises my chin,
Big bear arms encircle my shoulders
Squeezing me tight, his prickly beard
Rests on my head --
Before he lets go.