Tree House

By NICK MIRIELLO 

A father is only as good the tree house he never builds
Which he’s promised to his children before
they were script on checkbook, a practiced inheritance
from his father, and his father’s
father.

A gene born in the stars men still look up at from
time to time. Or an explanation for the summer
I went searching for the name of a man
who built the Brooklyn Bridge
with unforgiving stone and sand
and the metal cable wire once
run through his hands.

My mother hosted a young boy
my winter pen pal
the first summer after
the first divorce.

The boy described movies
and wine he hadn’t tasted,
but whose language he learned
from a distant cousin,
another pen pal.

The one who postmarked his letters
from Newark’’s Public Library.
Brick City.

Where young Philip Roth wrote
Goodbye, Columbus, a long short
story, the boy had seen as
a black and white movie.

I sat in awe, while he
proudly rubbed his
small, leathery hands
he’’d stained a purple
black walnut, from
a tree he picked in
California for his
father, who
promised him
a tree house
the coming
summer.

 

[Purchase Issue 15 here.]

Nick Miriello is senior international editor at VICE News. Before joining VICE News, he was the senior international editor at The Huffington Post. His writing has appeared in VICE, VICE News, The Los Angeles Review of Books, McSweeney’s, Guernica, CutBank Literary Magazine, Huffington Magazine, Word Riot, and elsewhere.

Tree House

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