Little girl dancing

In honor of Father’s Day, with more love than words can hold…

by Elizabeth Laing Thompson

Twirling in a clumsy pirouette,
a carousel of pink lace, purple satin, spangled frills,
she whirls to a breathless stop,
her pixie face radiating self-delight.
Wiggling fingers stretched wide to embrace the world,
her cockeyed crown slips down over one twinkling eye.
Giggling, she sing-songs,
“Daddy, am I your beautiful princess now?”
He nods, stifling laughter, and pulls the pile of princess jumble into his strong arms.
He nuzzles her baby-fine hair, inhaling the maple syrup smell of innocence.

A radiance of white, she squeezes his hand
for one last walk, safe under his wing—
just yesterday, he could balance her tiny body in his palm.
Her enraptured gaze is all for another;
his remembering eyes are all for her.
“Her mother and I,” he whispers, so the crowd can hardly hear.
Bending down, he gives one final kiss on her cheek,
flushed warm with dreams of the life to come.
She smiles, and breathes—he wonders if she even
spoke aloud—
“Am I your beautiful princess now?”
His words brush light against her ear—

He opens the door,
chaos tumbles in—
a litter of grandchild puppies, tripping and squealing, havoc-wreaking.
Over the melee, her arms filled with the newest chubby bundle,
she detaches greedy fingers tangled in her hair, gently shakes off an ankle-grabber;
with a happy-harried laugh and a rueful glance down at her wrinkled shirt,
she opens her mouth to say hello—
but a dancing blur of ribbons and skirts slams into his knee.
Throwing a blanket cape across her shoulders, the little tot laughs,
“Granddaddy, am I your beautiful princess now?”
Throat closing, he rests a palm on her bobbing curls
And winks up at her glassy-eyed mother—