One of my earliest memories
is working on puzzles with my dad.
He’d always tell me exactly what to do,
to start with the corners
and find all the edges,
but I never actually listened.
I was too young and too eager
absorbed by the promise
of a picture I couldn’t quite yet see.
Instead I’d just crush the delicate limbs
of his precious puzzle pieces
and peel up the edges
of the finely printed paper
trying to make two incompatible pieces fit
Until frustration made my face shine
against the old, yellow lights
suspended in air
over the square, laminated table
and my daddy would scoop me into his arms
kiss away my tears
his stubble tickling my cheekbones tender.
Then one by one
he’d pick up all the ragged, ugly pieces
and somehow make them fit
each piece right where it belongs
a magnificent picture made just for me.
Looking back on it,
not much seems to have changed.