In Between All That Vanilla





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In Between All That Vanilla


I didn’t know where you’d gone.

Not even the day

that I wanted you to help me

climb trees in the spring

and mother said you

had gone away, and I thought

how nice, Daddy needs a vacation,

and my Barbies were packed

in a yellow-taped box-

right under my teddy bear,

right over my Cinderella socks-

and greasy, unfamiliar men

were putting your ripped, red chair

into a large, charcoal colored truck, I thought

just your luck, you’ll come back to no chair.


I cried at those movers,

aching like an ant with no hill,

at the thought of someone else

swilling beer in your chair

even though I couldn’t tell

who that someone else would be

or why mother would put all your records

in the boxes lining the rusty back of the moving truck

as if you wouldn’t come to find them.


The backyard at our new house

didn’t have any climbing trees

short enough for me.

I waited for you to come

and hoist me on your bear shoulders.

And (for years) I looked for you in parking lots,

in crowded restaurants,

in families so complete

they could not have been mine,

smiling as they all licked identical ice cream cones

with cookies crumbs in between

all that vanilla.


And Father’s Day was a day to watch

Yankees baseball with Grampa,

complete with construction paper cards

constructed with dried tears sticking to my cheeks,

in the morning at grammar school

(thinking maybe you would come and read it ,

mechanic’s grease rudding your face

like make-up on Halloween)

while Robby, on my right,

talked about how his dad would take him

to the diamond that night,

and throw the baseball around

until their arms ached with pastime.