Neglecting the Kids

He wonders why he can’t remember the blossoming.
He can taste the brightness of the sour-cherry trees,
but not the clamoring whiteness. He was seven in
the first grade. He remembers two years later when
they were alone in those rich days. He and his sister
in what they called kindergarten.
They played every day on the towering
slate roofs. Barefoot. No one to see them on
those fine days. He remembers the fear
when they shot through the copper-sheeted
tunnels through the house. The fear
and joy and not getting hurt. Being tangled
high up in the mansion’s Bing cherry tree with
its luscious fruit. Remembers
the lavish blooming. Remembers the caves they
built in the cellar, in the masses of clothing and draperies.
Tunnels to each other’s kingdom with their stolen
jewelry and scarves. It was always summer, except for
the night when his father suddenly appeared. Bursting
in with crates of oranges or eggs, laughing in a way
that thrilled them. The snowy night behind him.
Who never brought two pounds of anything. The boy remembers
the drunkenness but not how he felt about it,
except for the Christmas when his father tried to embrace
the tree when he came home. Thousands of lights,
endless tinsel and ornaments. He does
not remember any of it except the crash as his father
went down. The end of something.

FROM The Dance Most of All
(Knopf, 2009, p. 11 )

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