After sawing logs on the couch,
your Daddy wakes and says he’ll bake
a sweet potato pie.
You look at his thick rhinoceros horn nails,
and say, “Daddy, please wait.”
Then you start to clip those jagged saws
and say, “How could you let them go
for so long?”
You gather the clippings
in your skirt and your son tells you
that you are acting
like his mom. But your dad
is no longer acting
like your son who would have
balled his sharp nails into a fist
if you tried.
Daddy says, “I can’t
remember anyone ever
clipping my nails.”
He considers the small
bottle of purple metallic polish
and says, “Yes, I will
paint your nails,
but I have never painted
a person’s nails before.”
She says that’s okay
and spreads the sum of her years
on a flattened macaroni box
to protect the table where you sat
as a child and now stand at a distance
to watch your father bent over
and concentrating with bifocals off.
The top of his head gleams,
the bald spot that was a golden coin
has grown into a mirror.
And this little curly haired girl,
your daughter, is you
though he never said, “yes”
when you asked.
you want to bottle this moment
to take a picture of those thick
tree trunk fingers holding her red bud twigs.
She sighs her patient I’m a big girl sigh
as he takes his time and colors outside the lines.