When I was eight years old my mother, my older brother and I lived on the southwest edge of town a few hundred feet from the proverbial railroad tracks. My mother was a widow and worked as a waitress in a main street café to support the three of us. Times were hard; it was 1950 and the Korean War was on. Things were hard for mom to come by, including food, although she could often bring home leftovers from the café. My father had died of tuberculosis five years before and my mother seemed to be in a perpetual state of depression. I believe she tried to hide it from us, but I could tell. Even at my age I could tell.
My mother had two pictures of my father stashed away in an old shoebox. In my mind at the time, my father was locked away in that box. Every time I heard that I was “the spittin’ image” of my father, I considered it a badge of honor and wore it proudly. I had no memory of him. I really had nothing of my father but the way I looked, and his old, broken pocket watch. It has a beautiful engraved elk on the back. I used to hold that old watch, rub it as if it were a genie’s lamp. Poof! No magic, no father. He would remain the father I never knew.
in my hand
this pleasant warmth –
father’s old watch