One time my father snuck me through the
gate; we were going to a fire, watching
Staten Island burn. All those oil tanks
and gas flares, something abandoned
had blown up and there were wild
flames everywhere. I could see his
face in the dark red light of the new
black night - that was no longer
black at all but white. I remember,
at age seven astounding myself at
how I could feel the waves of
billowing heat as that warmed
along my cheeks, as if the sides
of my face were parts of the fire.
I can't remember where he parked or
how, or why we went or the length of
time we stayed. It must have meant
something to him, and though we
talked I can't remember a thing. Is
there a point when a force of this
sort becomes a delivering element
for a man entrapped by his own life?
Maybe so, and maybe that's why he'd go.
And bring me along, I guess, just to then
witness his projected fury. I never said
a thing. Just took it in, and learned.
My life was never quite the fury his
became, and, though I may have had
my moments, I never burned. I never
flamed in such disastrous fashion - to
where I had to get away, to where I
needed to see what the fire was like.
By contrast, I'm peaceful;
my soul is all right.