Mornings

I am always the second to wake in the morning
The room dark
I hear the footsteps in the hall
And half awake, I hope it’s not six a.m.
But it is always six a.m.

The house is cold.
I find the button for the gas heater in the still-dark hall and
Pressing it, instantly hot air pours forth from vents in the ceiling.
When I was a boy, there was no heat in the mornings before school
No one had time to light the fire.
So, I would linger in bed, hoping to be forgotten.

Later, when I was a little older, we had a black and white TV in the kitchen
Where I could watch a cartoon as I ate breakfast
And wish away these days of school and rising early.

At nights, bus riding and walking in wet streets of stinging cold
I would light the fire if I were first home.
There I would fall asleep beside it.
Once, a spark caught my school jacket and burned a hole in it.

There is little in that now
But my father grew up in a house without a bathroom
His father was without electricity.
What would a child know of these things now?
And yet, happy moments were found.

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