The Gift

An envelope arrived

with a handwritten return address:

“DAD” in uneven block print.

It’s not stiff enough for polaroids

          of bass
               or lake trout
                    or northern pike

proof of fishing prowess.

Dyslexia shame usually
drove him to the telephone.

I tore it open, a generous check
and a folded note in his own hand:

“Pay your credit card debt,
a gift from your Dad.”

Again, the you’re-not-good-enough-
to-manage-yourself beating stick.

I wrote, “it’s none of your business,”
returned the check, crumpled.

A week later, another envelope with
the same handwritten return address.

Inside, the check smoothed
and a new note:

“This is a gift because
you are my son.”