An Early Memory

I do not recall if it was in Memphis or Gillette, but
I remember the house,
the reddish-colored carpet in the living room and
the uneven stone-built fireplace,
the picture window,
the view of the lawn.

I remember watching Dad
chase a pair of rabbits in circles around the car port,
an Easter gift for my sister and me,
how they repeatedly dove and hid beneath the car
just avoiding capture.

It was the house where my sister and I,
out of boredom and lack of supervision,
built a tower of tables in her room, and
later that afternoon she received stitches on the bridge of her nose
just between her eyes.

The thing I remember most clearly, though, is
a bitter winter night when my blood sugar was running particularly high;
I couldn’t sleep because it made me ill.

I rested in your lap, on the floor in front of the fireplace,
the darkness held at bay beyond the panes of the picture window
because of a fire I do not remember you building.

But I do remember the heat from
the flame, your arms, and the song you sang to me;
I laid back, watching the fire, cherishing time alone with you.

Now, when I am kept from sleep by the anxieties of parenthood,
I hear your lullaby drift from within the darkest part of me;

my eyes are still stung by
the warmth from the hearth of your embrace.

Michael Hylton, St. Louis, 2011


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