I am next to the palm tree just
before the slope down to
Silver Street before it was
uprooted, before the middle
girls were born, before the
first letter of the first word
of the first book was struck.

I am grouped with my young
siblings and my mother and
father cleaned up for some
photographer brought in to
catch us as an unsophisticated
family in that shameful old
rattletrap of a converted tavern.

I am standing behind the
bamboo curtain made up
to look Japanese poised to
say the first line of Teahouse of
the August Moon with my mother
in the audience who will not
recognize me that close to her end.

I am standing beside my
oldest brother before my
father's coffin as he slips the
watch off his thin wrist, unable
to know what to think that the
brother's gift to my Dad will
not be buried with him.

I am standing before my first
classroom almost delirious after
the birth of my daughter full of the
joy of fatherhood, having experienced
none of the mother's birthing
pains, just grateful that life
will carry on beyond myself.