Counting the Marigolds


The fist came out of nowhere.

He was nine years old and running up the garden path,
excited as only a boy can be
when he sees his father coming home.

Daddy, Daddy. I scored a goal!

It caught him right on the button.
Something split and he he could taste the metal in his blood
before he hit the ground.

He was staring at a bed of marigolds,
concentrating, counting leaves and petals,
when his father picked him up and looked him in the eye.

I must have told you a dozen times, he slurred.
Never leave yourself open.


William Ayot