With his use Of pathos and ambiguity usually leaves the interpretation Of the poem up to the reader. Some people may consider this poem to describe an abusive relationship between a young boy and his father. On the contrary, some believe this poem reflects on fond memories between a father and son. In the first stanza, Reroute starts off by setting a sort of ominous tone. ‘ ‘The whiskey on your breath / Could make a small boy dizzy/’ (1-2). Here he reveals to his readers that his father was drunk and the smell of his breath was unbearable.
Subsequently, he goes on to describe the manner in which he was holding on to his father. “But hung on like death / Such waltzing was not easy” (3-4). The simile here shows the boy holding onto his father as tight as he possibly could. It was not an easy task for the child but he was determined not to let go. Now, if the reader portrays this in a negative fashion it can be interpreted as a drunken father coming home, reeking of whiskey, while the child tries as hard as he can to get through this current beating, or dance as he calls it.
However, if the reader sees this in a more costive light, one can almost see the small boy standing on his feet, holding on so he won’t fall, dancing around with his drunken father. Naturally, it would not be easy to maintain your balance while standing on the feet of another person. The second stanza sounds quite violent. “We romped until the pans / Slid from the kitchen shelf / My mothers countenance / Could not unfrozen itself’ (5-8). Here, Reroute describes an almost chaotic scene, with pans falling to the floor caused by the movement of the two. The mother’s look on her face clearly indicates that she is not happy with what is going on. Inning the word romp negatively, could imply the boy easily being tossed around the kitchen, pans crashing onto the floor as his father would chase him, and the clear displeasure on the mother’s face. On the contrary, the use of romp can be used to describe an overly excited child and his father, carelessly dancing, running and jumping around the kitchen. Meanwhile, the mother could be annoyed at the mess the two are making. Reroute describes the roughness of his father’s hands as well as his ear scratched ear in the third stanza. ‘The hand that held my wrist Was battered on one knuckle” (9-10).
As his father held onto his wrist, the boy could see calloused and cuts prominent on one knuckle. From an optimistic standpoint we can see the boy notices his father’s injured hand. The cut is assumed to come from the gardening work in the greenhouse in which the family owned. On the other hand the father’s battered hands could be an indication of abuse. The cuts could have possibly occurred from previous altercations. Next, Reroute describes how the alcohol has made his father clumsy and every time his father stumbled the boys ear would scrape on the belt buckle. At every step you missed / My eight ear scraped a buckle” (1 1-12). The scraping of the boys ear could paint a picture of the drunken father stumbling around trying to hit the boy with the belt or it can be portrayed as a stumbling father dancing around with the boy on his feet. Because of the height difference, the boys ear is getting scraped. In the fourth and final stanza it becomes apparent it’s the young boy’s bed time. Once again Reroute describes his father’s hands as rough and dirt stained, probably from the gardening work in the greenhouse. “You beat time on my head / With a palm caked hard by dirt” (13-14).
Just like most children, he doesn’t want to go and so he clings to his father; “Then waltzed me off to bed / Still clinging to your shirt” (15-16). In a negative aspect, one can assume that this stanza is used to describe more physical abuse from the father. For example, the boy gets sent off to bed still holding on to his father’s shirt as if he is protecting himself from further blows. On the other hand one could imply his father’s dirty hands are simply imitating music in the same way one would beat on the kitchen table singing along to a song, as he father dances the boy to his bed.
Clearly the child is having a good time and does not want it to end, so he holds on tightly to his father. Reroute uses pathos throughout the entire poem. With every written line, the reader’s emotions are pulled into different directions. Reroute causes his audience to not just respond emotionally but to identity#y’ with his point of view. In essence to feel what he is feeling. The most remarkable thing about his use of pathos, is that it is undefined in a sense. The reader’s interpretations from his choice f words creates the emotional rise.
When I was first introduced to this poem was in my late teens. Maybe it was my inexperience with life or just an immature mindset, but just like most people, too thought this poem was about an abusive father. With the contradictory terms he uses in this piece it is easy to see the negative undertones. However, as time passed and I grew, my outlook on life changed. Perhaps it was becoming a mother that helped me see this piece in a new light; but when I read it now smile at the thought of a young boy. Dancing around with his father.