My father and I play checkers
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
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
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)