Angela Narciso Torres
Sundays with My Father
Once a week he’d take me along on his errands,
Mother on her midday siesta, Sister in bed
with the crossword. Sunday afternoon was ours.
Keys jangling in his free hand, my fingers wrapped
in his other, we’d cross the concrete parking lot,
three of my steps to each of his long strides.
It’s all business, his face read, but from the grip
of his hand and the way his shoulders lurched forward,
I knew the afternoon held more. At the camera shop
Anna smiled from behind the shiny counter,
handing him the sealed black-and-yellow packets
of photographs from a family vacation. Once
we bought rabbit ears at the hardware, the metallic
smells of commerce assaulting our senses.
In the supermarket he’d study Mother’s list, her small
blue script almost touching his thick glasses.
He picked tarragon vinegar when the recipe called
for white, rainbow-striped band-aids, mango ice cream.
In the stationery section he’d linger, drawn by the scent
of new pencils, fresh reams of paper, rubber bands
by the hundreds. I thought about his stories of the war,
how his mother hoarded paper in every form—brown bags
folded and refolded, moth-eaten receipts, calendars,
the gray-white margins of newsprint on which he practiced
his letters as a boy. The last item checked and bagged,
we headed for the exit, arrested by garlic roast peanuts
and a vendor’s toothy grin. I held out a wax-paper cone;
he filled it to the brim, greasy parchment slow-warming
my palm. Years ahead, when a trip to the store became
a mere stop in a blur of chores, I’d remember stepping
onto the sidewalk with my Father, our cart free-wheeling,
bundles coming loose in the vast, orange afternoon.