First Memory

My mother clinking plates in the sink.
My father sits in the big chair,
sifting through news, the crackle
of the paper as he straightens
pages, the click-whoosh of his Zippo,
the sizzle of the cigarette
as it catches fire, smoke drifting
like vines, nearby, the lamp a floating
cone of light, me floating behind it
to see where the cord led, small fingers
finding the open outlet. Then
my father rising, papers falling,
my mother rushing, calling. She said
it happened, but I could not
have remembered; I was only two.
Yet, I can still see the way the light
seemed to pull the roses and ivy
from the walls. I remember the shock.
The way they bolted toward me. Actually
I don’t remember that, only
the shadows that pulled me, memory
drifting like smoke. Both gone,
now, the moment is mine alone,
a show of slides to arrange
when I need to see them, the frames
shuffling to capture the time
when it happened—or didn’t.