In Order

Daddy drops his keys
into the ceramic bowl on his desk
so it tinkles like a jar full of money.
Our toys are lined up by size
on the hall shelf, and the sections
of the newspaper are set in a row
on the coffee table.

My sister grabs Freddy, our tattered, stuffed gator,
who leaks birdseed from his seams,
as Dad and I settle at the kitchen table
to rehearse the phonics lists
he has carefully penned.

Bat, cat, fat, hat,
he claps a steady rhythm as I recite.
When my sister toddles by, he grabs Freddy,
pushing him into her face
while he makes a funny roar
that sounds more like a quack. Startled,
she looks to me, relaxing as I smile,
then ambles on in search of treasures
to fill her toy purse.

Bun, fun, gun, pun.
I notice he has stopped clapping, and is still
as he stares at the clock, noting it is 3:34,
and he has almost forgotten snack time.
When he pulls out the Neapolitan ice cream,
I can taste the strawberry,
wiggling my feet as I wait.

He draws out the cutting board,
and sets the carton on its side,
slicing it like a loaf of bread,
then lays the slices on dinner plates,
peeling the carton off the rims like orange rind.

While we sit on the stoop
with our plates and our forks,
saving the strawberry for last,
I think about the way Grandpa
calls my daddy special, like it’s something bad,
when I think he is so good

Sharyl Collin wrote her first story at the age of seven from a trailer in a small border town in Southern California. When her principal read the story during an assembly, she was captivated by the power of writing. Her poems have been published in Wild Goose Poetry Review, Mason’s Road Literary Journal and Rubber Lemon, and she has completed her first chapbook, Tales of Trailers, Tamales and a Few Sour Grapes. Sharyl works in an emergency room, and lives with her family and black lab, Sadie, in Torrance, California, where they cultivate a prodigious display of Christmas ornaments.