My father was really shouting at me
because he didn’t love himself because he didn’t love his father,
or at least
that’s how my mother weaved it later.
I was like a mirror, too familiar to him,
a boy dumb-stunned by the big world,
empty as a jar,
empty as an afternoon
spent watching a cork bob barely
in the ash green sleep of a small pond,
empty as cigar smoke
lifting its silent cursive
around a boy
who has nothing to say for himself.
He had to know then
that the only way forward
and how the words of our fathers
pinball around our bones
dialing up different faces and shapes
until we look like one of Picasso’s people
and the ghosts have no place left to hide,
until we're the walking arithmetic of change itself,
a portrait of a stranger
with life's first and last lesson
chambered like a bullet
in the rhombus of our heart in our heart.
And who could recognize himself now
here in the smoke of my decisions?