What kind of daughter compares
her father to a dog, to an animal?
The kind who can’t look in his eyes
as she described a dog unable to loosen
its paw, but pad to floor, as he remembers
the first time he noticed his half-fist,
curled in concentration, stiff-armed behind him.
But we were the dogs, sister, brother, myself,
circling back every Sunday for dinner,
mouths empty and hungry to show
we were still in need, still the daughters
and son to a man who used to somersault
across the basement to peals of laughter, launch
to his feet at any sign of celebration or danger.
I took off my rings when I lifted
from under his armpits and like my mother,
always tugged at his pants,
pulling them up high enough
so the hem didn’t catch on his drop foot
as he ambled back to his chair,
tennis-balled walker a half step in front of him.
- Jennifer Jackson Berry
Jennifer Jackson Berry’s first full-length collection, The Feeder, was released by YesYes Books in December. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as Booth, Harpur Palate, Poet Lore and Whiskey Island, among others. She is the editor of Pittsburgh Poetry Review and an assistant editor for WomenArts Quarterly Journal. She is a member of the Madwomen in the Attic writing workshops and lives in the Braddock Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty. Prosody airs every Saturday morning on WESA 90.5 FM.