The attic window that opened onto the neighbor’s exterior brick wall just inches away. A thin slice of cave-dark between our home and theirs. The old red brick crumbly and dry. The bed he’d set up, carefully stacking boxes in the angled crawlspace to make room. Here at the top of the house, a small space that was his alone. The spiral half-stairs so narrow one had to brace against the tight walls. Like climbing into a kind of turret. In the ceiling a small square skylight onto which the tall poplars tossed, now and then, a leaf.
The stagger. The shudder. The drool. The rolling eyes.
And I: the fool.
[notes for “Dodder”]
The block. The plaque he head engraved with my name and the letters M F A. How proud he was of this birthday gift, of my accomplishment, how he did not understand that an MFA means little among a sea of PhDs. How I could not refuse it nor tell him it could never be displayed on my desk.
If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother. This is pretty much the theme of one section of The Boy Who Reads in the Trees, which grows out of my chapbook, Touch Me Not–the boy, the father, the mother. Almost a spiral, with the tree at the center? Eden reversed. Knowledge of terror, of being outsider. Looking to nature for answers because parental failure. (Do I want to claim this?)