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“Three Meditations on Fatherhood” by Tyler Chadwick

I. Two Kitchen Floors and a Tea Party

1. Scrubbing the kitchen floor on my hands and knees:

Dad walked in, looked down, said, You’ll make someone a good wife

someday, then grinned. I shook my head, laughed back, returned to searching

for my reflection in linoleum.

2. Six-month daughter strapped to my chest, three-year-old downstairs

in front of Sesame Street: I mopped the kitchen floor, watching crumpets

rise in the oven because she was playing tea party and I thought

for once we should try them for real.

II. At the Grocery Store on a Midweek Afternoon

My cart loaded, infant and toddler in tow, I stepped to the check-out stand. You playing Mom today? the cashier asked. Looking up then down, I wanted to strip myself, say, Did I wear my wife’s breasts today? Slip on her episiotomy with my underwear, her labor-wide hips with my jeans? No wonder nothing fits. I must have missed the mirror on our way out the door. Instead, while unloading groceries on the conveyor belt, I patronized her smile with mine and told her, Something like that, though it was really nothing like that (Dragoti’s Jack Butler got my arc wrong); then waited for the price, paid, reloaded the cart, and gathered my girls into the flaming circle of our mundanity.

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