Subterfuge

I remember my father, slight,
staggering in with his Underwood,
bearing it in his arms like an awkward bouquet

for his spastic child who sits down
on the floor, one knee on the frame
of the typewriter, and holding her left wrist

with her right hand, in that precision known
to the crippled, pecks at the keys
with a sparrow’s preoccupation.

Falling by chance on rhyme, novel and curious bubble
blown with a magic pipe, she tries them over and over,
spellbound by life’s clashing in accord or against itself,

pretending pretense and playing at playing,
she does her childhood backward as children do
her fun a delaying action against what she knows.

My father must lose her, his runaway on a treadmill,
will lose the terrible favor that life has done him
as she toils at tomorrow, tensed at her makeshift toy.

-Vassar Miller

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