Theodore Roethke
My Papa's Waltz (c. 1948)

 

The whiskey on your breath

 

Could make a small boy dizzy;

 

But I hung on like death:

4

Such waltzing was not easy.

 

 

 

We romped until the pans

 

Slid from the kitchen shelf;

 

My mother's countenance

8

Could not unfrown itself.

 

 

 

The hand that held my wrist

 

Was battered on one knuckle;

 

At every step you missed

12

My right ear scraped a buckle.

 

 

 

You beat time on my head

 

With a palm caked hard by dirt,

 

Then waltzed me off to bed

16

Still clinging to your shirt.


7. countenance: expression on the face.