Raw Throated and Breathless

She had asked for a slow song to dance to

and so, she swayed before us

unsure of how to move

she could not stomp and spin

she could not pop and lock

she could only rock gently

her arms swinging slowly by her side


I lasted thirty seconds or so

before I felt it coming

from deep in the pits of me

bubbling and boiling and ready

I thought I could keep it there

then we locked eyes

she was po faced and earnest


I crumbled and the laughter came

erupting, a geyser of unwanted joy

I buried my face in my hands

I closed my eyes and clamped my mouth

my whole body tightened

but the laughter, torrents of laughter

would not be stopped


I looked through damp fingers

to see her run, for the first time

away from me, her despicable father

I saw her cling to her mother

 hiding her face from me

and still, the laughter came

fizzing from me, unrelenting


I crawled to her

pleaded for mercy

kneaded her shoulders

and laughed

and laughed

and never stopped laughing

amazed at myself


raw throated and breathless

still leaking giggles

I retreated and waited

her whimpering calming

muffled, she said

“I was trying my best”

“I was trying my best”


I opened my arms

wide as the world

and finally, tentatively

she came

her frame, fragile as a bird’s

I felt her smile against my cheek

“Stop dad, you are squeezing me too tight.”



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