"My Papa's Waltz"                 Theodore Roethke

The whiskey on your breath   

Could make a small boy dizzy;   

But I hung on like death:   

Such waltzing was not easy.

 

We romped until the pans   

Slid from the kitchen shelf;   

My mother’s countenance   

Could not unfrown itself.

 

The hand that held my wrist   

Was battered on one knuckle;   

At every step you missed

My right ear scraped a buckle.

 

You beat time on my head   

With a palm caked hard by dirt,   

Then waltzed me off to bed   

Still clinging to your shirt.

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Art Work copyright Rachel A Levine