Ezy Reading
Jerome, Iowa
Evan Kanarakis

Pa usually worked Christmas
(which is to say he worked most every day)
And what with Ma long gone
Guess that made me a latchkey kid
Never minded it much
Pa was chasing down every last dollar he could find
(and there weren’t many dollars to find in Jerome, trust me)

Sure, the other kids had new toys and clothes
They also had to contend with empty liquor bottles,
Hiding bruises under their sleeves
Not me
My Pa was rock solid
I knew he couldn’t come watch my games or school shows
And the walk home each day
WAY out on North Lincoln Ave
Wasn’t much fun
‘Specially in winter

But I was never hungry, I was never cold
He always made me smile
And all those quiet hours on my own
Were worth it
When every summer he’d take two days
We’d head out west to fish Snake River Canyon
And two days felt like two months

Christmas sure was a funny time though
Pa would see me off with a hug before dawn
And I’d spend the day being swapped from neighbor to neighbor
They were nice enough (though the pity made me feel iffy)
Never thought I saw them rewriting my name
On other people’s discarded presents
‘Oh thank you Mrs. Johnson…
This crocheted bath mat
Sure will come in handy…’
(for a ten-year-old)

But I hardly cared
I only lived for but one moment
(Christmas night or otherwise)
When ‘round 2am I’d hear Pa walk back in through the door
He’d lean in and check on me for a time
And I’d always make like I was sleeping- I can’t tell you why
But in that moment, under his watchful eyes
I felt so safe. So happy.
It was Christmas every night.


Ezy Reading is out every month.