My Papa’s Waltz


The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mothers countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

Theodore Roethke

I found this impossible to read without welling up in tears.


Her legs were turned inward holding the leash between. I was positioned to notice everything that happens from the waist down; In the lower regions of life. Sometimes I spend all day like that, peeking up from a book and looking at people from their knees–down.

Just when you thought it was safe to stand idly, someone, somewhere is reading your character based on your shoes, socks, positioning of your feet, and where you keep the weight of your body.