Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Midsummer, always a moaning at home
the week before Grandfather’s knee surgery,
always the listless crawling of June bugs
along the windowsills.
Summer of mumbling dios mío, summer of no
stairs, no ascending at all, so we pushed aside
the dining room table, maneuvered in
the King bed. He dreamed below
a cheap chandelier like an anchor
just risen from water, the clear drops caught
Late evening, blue shadows—
I watched TV alone, the volume low. The walls
glowed in Technicolor, sunk to black
between commercials. This is me
stalling, this is me resisting
confession, a June bug thumping
against the window. Another. This is me
couch-sprawled, this is
the sound of my grandfather
groaning, the chiseled anguish on his face
surfacing from the darkness
of the foyer. This is him limping
to the bathroom with fire
in his knee, glass in his knee, a labored
breathing. Do you see him? Do you see
the boy, frozen in the ancient light
of suffering?
I want to go back,
yank him to his feet. I want to tell him
about shame, that heavy
red bird, how long it lives in the mind,
the heart, years, decades, the weight
of it when it settles down, turning
your whole body into its perch.
That boy, I would make him listen.
And he would go to him—his mother’s father,
his blood and root—and offer
a lifted arm, curved
like the end of a banister rail.

How frightened I was then, and how foolish
I am now, thinking this admission
would reconcile myself
with my younger self.
That boy. This long silence
between us. This guilt he brought to me.
This red feather in my hand.  end  

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