Fruit Stripe

I remember every yellow light
I stopped for
Returned the pack of gum I stole
It was colorful and sweet
But my dad marched me back
And when I apologized 
The cashier seemed sad

She thought this was only the start
My life of crime fated maybe
Or else the exchange of the quarter
From my dad’s hand to mine to hers
Stirred in her a memory
Of parent or child

She was both then
As was Dad
Watching me sign the social contract
I will never take again without giving first
A pause, at least
To promise I'm listening
A beat
A breath
A particular series of words

The ice cream softened in the back of the Nissan
Even with the windows down
The summer boiled
Some things we can't control
But for surrender

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