The whistling wind was raw
and I barely had any jacket on
because I was young.
At the end of the alley
was a rigid, dead rat.
I remember thinking
that I had to make a choice:
whether to leave, then and there,
or whether to go back to my parents’
inferior brand of love, expressed
in food, mostly. Not what I needed,
but there it was, three times a day.
I chose to go back, of course.
I was only 10 years old, maybe 11.
But I paced in that alley for a long time,
and I buried the rat under the rosebush,
the one my father planted for my mother
on the day I was born.
Ralph Tells His Grandson About a Decision He Made