Commemoration, by Madeleine Wallenbarger



Today is Charlie Chaplin’s birthday.

In his honor, my father breaks a tire,

works in silent comedic

struggle to change it.


I stand on the corner.

My heels aerate the soil.

Brother turns the levers, shifts

machinery as needed.


We refuse the help of strangers,

we huddled, we tired,

we tire, tire, tire. Charlie,

what I remember


is your mustache, your hat

and your scamper. We, inept, would make you proud.

We’d build you a wagon,

burdened by loose wheels,


and a door perfect for slamming.

We’d paint ourselves sepia,

two-toned, like the drawings

of parts in the instruction manual.


— Madeleine Wattenbarger


Madeleine Wattenbarger is a senior at Germantown Friends School. She lives in Mount Airy.

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