When his daughter was one
he babysat by letting her
eat the parts of the paper
he had finished,
and the mother would come home
to find them both on the floor
with newspaper, wet smudges
of contentment around the open baby mouth,
two faces marked with newsprint ink,
a proud, self-sufficient father.
Back then he read every tiny word, but
with faltering sight comes a fondness for headlines.
He can see the large, bold letters
and he likes the way writers use words
to capture his attention.
If the caption pleases him, shows promise,
he will slowly polish his magnifying glass
with his handkerchief, wrinkle his forehead,
and hunker down to read.
Overpass Order Overlooked
This one is about rival cities
that signed what they thought
was the same agreement,
but with each paper’s editing
came a different meaning—
Citizens to See Senator Concerning Revision
Some he saves for his daughter
(she writes, he thinks)
because she is an English major,
or because once she told him
she had a yeast infection—
Toss Panties In Microwave, Doctor Advises
Some helpful hints
make more sense magnified—
OSU Students On Budget Prefer Gravy Train—
so he cuts out and sends her the whole
story, while others are self-explanatory
and give no need for further reading—
or, like today, are so vivid and revealing
that he needs only the first dark words,
and is happy to let his glass hang
around his neck, smeared and dispensable.
Today his daughter is home to visit.
They share the Sunday paper over diet Cokes;
on her way home from church the mother
will pick up some food; the headlines
are spectacular, and with a little imagination—
Clever Cow Escapes Slaughterhouse—
he can guess the rest.