“Paris Bridge,”
Stephanie Lee Jackson
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.