Or that every day began with two poached eggs
soft, toasted rye, and his coffee. Oh, the taste, feathering
my tongue with milk infused, sweetened after dipping
my donut in Father’s breakfast drink, the free sky outside…

I’m calling him then to teach me
to ride a bike, between concrete and grass,
his large hands, patient, upon my back, sticking with it until
over a few months I learned to balance myself like a bell.

And he’d listen then to my radio,
played monopoly and scrabble while I was bedridden,
even though father insisted I be the first to get
air conditioning––given such weak lungs and breathing
problems. How she reluctantly agreed, as if she placed last
in some competitive race.


As her failed sanity rose like a blind bird,
loud, over his head, she forced him to take action,
to spank me, choosing her side, his leather belt
over my panties. And if this chore wasn’t enough,
he could be counted on to pull our hair, sometimes
a hank of it in his hand.

That he wouldn’t see mother’s craziness,
never questioned her orders, only our
transgressions, what composed this infinite loyalty like a horse
with blinders, constantly circling Central Park. Even when
she ran away, called us from the psychiatric ward at
Riverview Hospital.


How, he labeled it confusion, blamed me
for her exit, I was not grateful enough for my engagement
party’s three Chinese dishes frozen, defrosted
cream puffs, the lesser of what she might offer her adult
guests––Yes, Father blamed me, and I forever denounced him for
not protecting any of us––counting backwards to the beginning,
I found silence, my weapon.