Dinnertime

She waits on the front porch
Small hands clenched on her lap
Short legs kicking over the edge
Silently reciting
Her magic charm
Pfadt, Pfahl, Pfeiffer, Pfoutz
Names from the phone book

His tall legs eat the sidewalk
Coming home from the bus stop
Whistling
Already feeling the beer foam
Tickling his tongue

He smiles when he sees her

Hands unclench
Mind recital stops
“Daddy”

She runs, trying to look like
Their favorite ballplayer
Rounding third
Heading for home

Laughing
He catches her up
In a one armed hug
She talks as they walk
Home

Her day, her plans, her baby sister
But not her magic names

In the kitchen
He puts down his lunch pail
Her mom turns around
Leans against the fridge
Spews the daily frustrations
The stubbornness, the sass

She sits at the table
Half listening
Pfadt, Pfahl, Pfeiffer, Pfoutz
Next to her high-chaired sister
Munching a carrot

He leans against the counter
Half listening
Wanting that beer
Until he turns
Unhurried
And backhands her across the face.

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