‘Happy Childhood’ by Wade Bentley

Scientists say babies tend to remember best those things
associated with positive feelings.

The hairy big brother who according to photos
was actually an English Sheepdog who shared
with me his slobber-softened ham bone.
The man in the blue sweater on the TV who played
with puppets and had a voice like a good nap.
Riding in the front seat on the way to the liquor
store, mom singing show tunes and tickling
my knees, Are your nostrils aquiver?
What about that pie, boy?
That first happy
hour of dancing me around the front room
when we got home. How when dad arrived
and mom disappeared he would hum
softly as he put me in my high chair, hum
as he cooked pasta for us—mine with butter
only; his with a red sauce, sopped up
with bread, that ringed his lips like blood,
looking like a clown to me then, his eyes
shiny and wide—and say, it’s you and me,
chief. Eat up. It doesn’t get any better than this.

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