If this were a short story, it would open with a toddler,
still in her Cinderella nightgown, rushing from floor vent to floor vent
for the blast of heat whining through the metal grate
pressing into the soles of her bare feet. The TV is on, her choice, a cat
chasing a mouse, and her eyes are trained steadfast on the flicker,
lower jaw dropped in absorption. Soon, leaning against the doorjamb
is the uncle, unsteady, one skeletal shoulder
supporting the whole weight of him, slurred words dropping
like dimes fleeing in a clatter from an unseamed pocket.
The channel is changed, dolls decapitated, and surely something
is broken or maybe thrown. If this were fiction,
instead of my own memory, I’d rewrite the narrative
to give the villain a voice, for even the most grizzled
must have a story to tell, reasons worth reading.