Voices can wisp and still pierce;
I’ve felt it. At twenty. I remember
a stop light. I grew crutch-heavy,
felt-lined on the outtake—there
were many more walls, all shouldering.
The hazy windowpane.
Things that remind me of my father
include: talk radio, the Sports section,
Sinatra. An eagle I spotted in Canada.
A kitten laid down in new snow.
Radio comes from the word radiate
—invasion of space. A tool nature
uses to fool us, render some nights
slumberless. My bed is a mash of
fabrics and licked-away wishes.
When I was two, I wanted
nothing more than a make-believe
kitchen set. The same year I jerked
an iron from its perch, burnt a triangle
into my hip. It’s still there, if you care.
Transmission: my father taught me
to twirl pasta into a spoon. Transmission:
my mother tells a story of riding
in a friend’s Jeep down the Pacific Coast
Highway, being stopped by the cops,
later the friend explained why he sweated
so much: the ten or more pounds of cocaine
in the truck. Before, I was embarrassed
of this history. Now I think: what luck.
To get away.
I see tunnels of intellect that divided
my father and my mother as geomagnets.
Cells that once pushed forward weakened
ten times faster than scientists expected.
Transmission: I have written many words
around static to try and silence it.
I have thorns of memories that are not mine:
rosebuds growing in my limbic system,
a mountain slope in perpetual bloom.
Pluck one rose: a man holds a knife
to my mother’s throat. He is a father.
He is somebody’s father. Who belongs to him?
Who do I belong to?
For as many sunsets. For the clocks I lost
count. As I called myself an orphan before
I was one. I did check statistics, facts,
information: the most obvious symptoms
are movement-related; these include shaking,
rigidity, slowness of movement and difficulty
with walking and gait
idiopathic (having no known cause)
I walk briskly. Even in humidity.
I hold my hand above my head in side-
angle pose. My spine. I think about
my own decline often, tell jokes about
my demise happening before I turn 40.
Transmission: my father’s entire livelihood,
income depended on the strength of his
body and his confidence that it would not
betray him. I call what happened beguilement.
This is an understatement. Parkinson’s primary
feature is cognitive decline, which can lead to hallucination.
I pull What Ifs from a pillow, (the spot
I once fished for dollars and luck) pinch
the base of my neck, hippocampus, limbic
system, cerebral cortex. As drawn to the brain
as I am afraid. Where memory is stored—
the death of dopamine-producing neurons—
Where memory is destroyed. Destroys?
What do knives remind you of?
A shaking woman. She’s not cold,
it’s California. There’s something else:
a prismatic hour feasting on the room.
I watch a man torched from a photograph.
A smoking car. It seems like all the women
are running away, have been running, never
stopping. Was it her father? My own? Genetic,
ancestral. Hereditary, patrimonial.
To err is human, to persist is devilish.
This is not my tale to invoke and warm
by the stove. Old shoe, black shoe. Died
before I had time. Counting my steps, I’m
a tick-tock at a quick clip. Car-want. Car-thirst.
Car-hunger and hanker.
An orphan must learn to love the highway.
I see a three-year-old palm in the hand
of another (a kind of astrology, divination).
The hours before I taught myself lessons
of on-ramps, geography, tectonics.
Transmission: in this telling, no drought.
In this telling, I have yet to move
through the space of a quake, the vicious,
headstrong earth. I ask the man (is it
my father?), What wet? And he says, This
is rain. Rain. How could you forget?