Daddy, watch me.
Watch me pirouette a worn patch into the rug,
watch me make a soda bottle tornado,
watch me cling to the leg of your trousers.
She is a dime store tragedy
of dirty fingernails and frog residue.
She smells the way children smell
before their scratch and sniff sweetness
gets rubbed off.
Daddy, I’m hungry.
Wake up now, it’s dark out
and I can’t reach the light switch.
Daddy, why does your soda taste funny?
She is missing two front teeth
in the photograph
posted on the precinct bulletin board.
Her hair is worried into a knot
above her left ear but
she is smiling.
Daddy, help me paint a picture of the dog,
help me wash my clothes for school tomorrow,
A necklace made of macaroni, strung onto a piece of yarn.
A crumpled pair of Spongebob underpants.
These are things she left.
He walks the short length of the apartment,
touching them like religious relics,
as though they might hold the power
to save him.
To save her.
When night comes,
he opens beer bottles on the scarred countertop
and thinks of her unanswered questions.
Daddy, why don’t I have a furry chin like you?
Do dinosaurs come from Alaska?
Where does Elmo go to kindergarten?
Daddy, how many hours does it take
to drive to heaven?