He set his ear under my shoulder
tucked his knees under his chin
handed me a thin book,
colors faded—reds turned to rust,
whites yellowed and smudged.
Read this one, now!
I didn’t take the chance
to remind him
about the magic word,
passed on the opportunity
to enforce proper procedure
for petitioning adults
I draped my right arm round him
gave him a small squeeze
while his little sister summitted my left knee,
opened the book, thumbed worn pages,
summoned my best farm-animal voices.