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Opening Pickle Jars

What does a father do with his hands when they are no longer needed to hold you up or keep you from falling?

By F Cade SwansonPublished 2 years ago Updated 8 months ago 2 min read
Opening Pickle Jars
Photo by Alessandra Caretto on Unsplash

Pig tailed and sitting tall

in a white t-shirt

trimmed in lace, you balance

on the white pleather seat

of a pink bike in the Tacoma Walmart.

"Smile," I say, and snap a picture.

You look like a candy cane.

Your brother and I had picked you

up and surprised you with donuts.

We have 48 hours together.

A weekend.

Shared custody makes every choice

feel so heavy.

I want to fill each moment with a memory,

overflowing like the raspberry jelly

your donut can’t contain,

sweet and sticky memories of our time together.

We drive home,

to the house where we once lived together.

Your room has not changed.

This visit will be defined by pink

handlebar streamers,

a glittery bike

helmet, and a white plastic basket made

to look like wicker.

I run behind you, hand under

your seat, holding the bike

steady as you scream and giggle,

as we scream and giggle,

your legs pedaling furiously

and my feet rushing to keep up.

As the day continues,

and you work to coordinate

all of the movements there are

some falls,

but scraped knees don't deter you,

and you let me wipe your tears

as you climb back on

and try again.

Soon enough you've found it

your own balance

your own freedom

and the strength of

your own legs to carry you away.

"I'm doing it!"

you cry and I feel my hand

begin to let go, my grip

loosening from the seat

as you begin to ride

on your own.

"Did you see?"

you ask,

turning the bike back

towards me and stopping by my side.

"I did!"

I say.

"You're amazing!"

The following day,

you’ve got it fully figured out,

and as the weekend comes to an end,

you park your bike

and we say goodbye.

“What does a father do with his hands

when they are no longer needed to hold

you up or keep you

from falling?” I think.

Relegated to high fives

or opening pickle jars.

Maybe that's why dads take so many pictures,

something to do

with our hands

and to document your transformation

to independence.

No longer needed to hold

you up,

or to wipe your tears,

I raise my hand

to wave goodbye

and wipe my own.

heartbreakinspirationallove poemssad poetry

About the Creator

F Cade Swanson

Queer dad from Virginia now living and writing in the Pacific Northwest. Dad poems, sad poems, stories about life. Read more at fcadeswanson.com

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Comments (1)

  • Oneg In The Arctic15 days ago

    Gosh 😭💕 What a poem. What a poet. what a waterfall of emotions 😭💕

F Cade SwansonWritten by F Cade Swanson

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