"Don't over-tighten them,"
I bid my father
as he tugs at the kid's laces
like it could bring his parents back to life.
Tactfully, I leave out the implied
"...like you did to mine,"
for the sake of letting him
have his second go at it
unchecked by the truth.
My brother's no better
at walking on knives than I was
at his age
and the ice poses a problem
for both of us.
The knack has lost my legs
and I sneer at the memory
of skating backwards.
It's not like riding a bike.
There's a window of time that closes.
Youth is squandered on the young.
I take a lap around
gaining my bearings enough
to be able to safely steer a three-year-old.
My father and I each reach down
for one of his tiny, gloved hands.
It's a sight to behold, two men and a boy.
Not one of us seems too familiar.
The kid's got it the worst.
Under the ridiculous helmet
his mother picked up
his wool hat is creeping down
over his eyes.
Our dad tries to adjust it
but I intervene with servant's hands
more nimble and precise
though just as sincere.
"He can't skate if he can't see."
"Sorry," the fumbling sexagenarian
The shaky legged trio manages a pass
around the rink, no innocents taken out
in the process. I can feel the eyes upon us.
I'm jealous that the other two can't.
When it happens I let it.
Falling is inevitable.
My left arm takes most of the weight
so he lands painlessly on the ice.
The pout he shoots up at me
describes the pain of his pride
not his body.
I maintain my composure
ignoring his Oscar-worthy disdain
and gently grip his hands.
"Use your legs. You can do it,"
and he does.
Getting back up runs in the blood.
Getting back up is what matters.
If he learns that now we've won.