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.