Erica Febres 1/25/16
“My Papa’s Waltz”
My Papa’s Waltz is a poem about a child and how they view their relationship with their father. As we read the poem, the reader can have multiple feelings on the relationship the child has with their father. Could they be expressing abuse? Could they be expressing love? As I read the poem my first thought was abuse, then I re-read the poem multiple times and thought love.
The child expresses the whiskey on the father’s breath “could make a small boy dizzy.” The father had appeared to have a few drinks and a love for music. As the child “hung on like death” to the father they waltzed around the kitchen, “romped until the pans slid from the shelf.” Playing roughly and energetically the mother watched with a facial expression that “could not unfrown itself.” The mother did not seem happy as they were making a mess of the kitchen. While holding the child’s wrist while they danced around the father was “battered on one knuckle.” “At every step you missed, my right ear scraped a buckle.” The child danced and missed steps with their father, the child’s ear was level with the belt buckle and would scrape against their ear. As they waltzed to the beat of the music (“you beat time on my head”) the child noticed “a palm caked hand with dirt”, which shows the father does some sort of physical labor to have such rough hands. As the dance is winding down the child is waltzed off to bed “still clinging on to your shirt’, clinging on to the father’s shirt not wanting to go to bed. Therefore, the child has love for their father like no other.