“PENANCE”

The belt buckle of my father chimed in the blue hall,
as he swung it off— aiming to teach me or him a lesson.
It seemed that the lashes never connected—
and that the sound it made was more terrifying
than the actual pain.
I did my best not to make a squeak, but soon my sobbing began.
I think the old man swatted his own hand a couple times—
because he knew that I knew that it only took
the ringing of his belt loop— his hook and buckle—
to send me racing beneath the hard wooden table
of my mother’s typewriter.
I sat down there, sulking, sniffing at the carbons
and scratching my name into the little plastic strips
of whiteout;
Praying that my father and his big black belt would forget
my error.
My father was too good of a man to come after a small child
who would corner himself in like I had, squirming
between the table legs and the wall.
Soon, I heard his heavy chair scuffing against the kitchen floor
and I knew it was safe to return.
Fathers are rarely interested in inflicting pain.
It is only your fear— and if you give them that,
they are typically hungry for food again—
and so are you.
At least, that’s the way it was, almost every night
that I refused to eat the fish or the lamb.
Now, as an adult, they are two of my favorites
and I suppose I have my father to thank.
He was a great culinary teacher—
especially the one time he taught me
how to beat with a wooden spoon.

narrative poem written on 03-17-2011 by: on mattkane.com
view image of poem

SHARE THIS POEM!

- Remove line breaks