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A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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And Andy

He was there at breakfast, in the

highchair, and in the afternoon I read to him,

a soft, warm, limp or squirming bundle on my lap.

     I breathed in

the clean-baby smell of him, the smell of innocence,

which I quickly learned

     lied. It wasn’t just that he would

     grab my hair and pull, but that he’d

hang on and laugh, even when I cried.

“He’s just a baby,” said my mother. “He doesn’t know

     any better.”

Soon, though, he’d go with Annie

to the kitchen for his dinner. Every evening, he ran,

pajama-clad, into the living-room,

for a story and a snuggle with Daddy, a ritual I’d tolerate,

because in one more moment, Annie would

call him to bed, before she

went to her room behind the kitchen, while

I would stay, alone with our parents.

Andy did not really count.

 

Once he was three or four, and

old enough to be there, sometimes, in the afternoons

when Daddy came home,

the game ended. He would agree to hide, to hunker down,

and nod to Daddy’s signal for silence, but always

before Daddy got to Mommy’s chair, he’d yell, “Hi, Daddy!”

despite my hushing, and what was the point,

then, of his hiding?

“He’s excited,” Mother said, but the look

he gave me was quite sly. And then, sometimes,

he would not even pretend to join our game;

“No,” he’d say, to me, to Mother, sitting there

      on the floor with his blocks

     and saying, as if it meant nothing,

     “Hi, Daddy,” not even looking up,

     as soon as our father appeared.

“Can I have some juice?” he’d ask,

his bland betrayal unaccusably

innocent, and he, not a traitor,

     but a thirsty little boy.

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