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Daddy sang love songs in the piano bar called the Lucky Star.
Sometimes when I was lucky, he held me on his lap
and sang only to me. He sang:
St. Peter don't 'ya call me 'cuz I can't go —
I owe my soul to the company sto'.
I didn't get what it was that he owed his soul to,
but it must have been more important than St. Peter.
Maybe it was something compelling at the lucky star
that kept him there so many long hours after work.
I could almost catch a glimpse of it the first time I went there —
there were large three-dimensional stars hanging from the midnight colored ceiling
— sprinkled with tiny lights so that it looked like a magical sky.
To share the magic, I sang made-up songs
and danced under the pretend stars.
Another magical ceiling was in the elaborate Catholic Church —
high enough to let in God from heaven. Maybe God slipped in
through the tall stained glass windows — but I never quite saw him do it.
Though I searched all the corners, I could never catch a glimpse of either
the father, the son, or the Holy Ghost lurking there.
My favorite part of church was
looking at the pretty hats the ladies wore —
Maybe it was the hats that made church special.
The nuns at the Catholic school directed us
to read the lives of the Saints for guidance.
I read and re-read them looking for clues —
"Joan of Arc" and "Florence Nightingale."
Florence Nightingale captured my imagination.
Maybe it was the outfit - the hat and the long
blue and red cape, or her stylish brown hair and red lips -
and all those wounded soldiers loving her...
I wanted to dress like that
and be loved like that for what I did —
It was all so romantic —
Like the songs daddy sang:
When your heart's on fire
Smoke gets in your eyes...
Years after he died, I find a tape of him singing.
As I listen
I am small and
the world is again full of magic.