Photograph 1958, Patricia Young

Photograph, 1958

My father and I play checkers

In profile.

He sits on the couch, leans forward on his elbow, there’s

A low coffee table between us.

I am four, sit opposite on a hassock.

He concentrates on the board,

I am watching him, who

Is winning?

I no longer know

The rules or object of the game

Checkers on the board and off

An open cigarette package, box of matches

My father wears a loose white

Shirt, work pants, my hair

Is badly cut, these

Are the details. Beyond the barely furnished room I guess snow:

Banked against the front and back doors. Years later

We’ll live in another city.

In an old farmhouse

Rock at the green edge

Of a golf course. My father

Will pull a stove out of a wall

And hurl it across a kitchen

On my account

Boiling lobsters

Will fly like wet birds.

In this photograph my face

Tilts up toward his. I wait for him to make his move

And I would gladly wait forever,

Deaf to the screams, and scarlet tails

That will one day scatter.

– Patricia Young (1958)