April 21, 2020

Article at The Reform Jewish Quarterly

Remembering Her Father's Birthday

Bon vivant he was, always holding a big cigar;

A raconteur with no small inventory of Yiddish

jokes; a twinkle for beautiful women, a fine

appreciation for art; art everywhere. His daughter

draws her legs up onto the bed like a teenager

ready for an hours-long phone call; opens the box

to finger the gold wristwatch softened to a rosy

patina after years of stillness on velvet. Her father’s

watch. She caresses the still-crisp linen handkerchief

that always peeked out of his suit pocket like

a capuchin nun against a tweedy sky. She jiggles

cufflinks and shirt studs in her hand like winning

dice thrown in the floating gaming rooms, one

constant in her hometown during the good years,

yet especially in the bad. Slowly, she drops everything

back into the box except the watch which she scales

up her forearm until it stops rolling down to her

narrow wrist. She walks toward her vanity table,

powders her nose, dabs on Fire and Ice, then enters

kitchen to set the table. Tonight it will be the pretty

plates, candles, cloth napkins, Glancing at the watch

every few steps, she recalls one of her father’s

old jokes. Laughs. Yes, a joke for his birthday. She’ll

tell it to the girls tonight. A good joke.

Father would love that more than cake.