Like Father

He remembered the exact time and place when the rung was most visible
the head nods at meetings and pats on the back
those who sought his opinions were stepping aside
pointing him in the right direction
clearing him for take-off
but he faltered
slipped and didn’t even try to regain his footing.

His baby girl pulling at his index finger
he laughed and belly flopped on the floor
so she could ride a wild bronco
they shook their heads at the office
offered crooked, sympathetic smiles
he replied with shoulder shrugs
and a wallet of cascading, accordion photos
he preferred pay checks, picnics and platefuls of chicken
to deadlines, quotas and conferences.

His colleagues became his superiors
promoted and transferred to corporate offices
for twenty years he thought
they secretly envied him
while he went to her college graduation
gave advice on how to avoid the glass ceiling
and the glass slipper
talked corporate strategy and marketability
cleared the way
for her take-off
stepped aside.

Each day now an opportunity to hear from her
a postcard from the rung
a letter hastily written and never long enough
he sees the mail man pass the gate without stopping
inside he watches the clock
and prepares himself for the evening news.



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