It was my father
Young flesh, full mop of hair

He came as a ghost I thought
As I sat in a cafe
Hopefully in Amsterdam,
in likeness of the aunt I’ve never met,
Hopefully not escaped from some institution
An old woman, finally contended
I, almost a hundred
And he, thirty four years old
Smiling, determined, dexterous dad

Once I was only four
Wandering through sand parks
Standing for pictures
in front of ornate fountains
Fighting to sit on a stone dragon

I remember a swing
strung up in the middle of two rooms
Only the stuffed bear
was light enough to ride

My childhood was parks
And black tea
I wore heeled sandals with crests
Toddler queen of Asia
Climbing rock walls decorated with sea horses
Dressed in ornaments
(perhaps a skirt was the wrong choice
for this sandstone sea monster-
my thighs scraping)
Always the little lady

Later, a tramp, perhaps
Same frivolous looks
But memory is a coral reef
A deep but naturally open origin
First life, right before its last breath,
remembers most vividly its beginning
Everything else is haughty swallows of air
and diffused exclamations in an
already unfaltering ocean

I see myself pressing dough into stars
I tell dad, as we sip tea
I see brown specs
from staring at the sun
And telling you
that I pooped that morning

Still, I see little now
Because I have completely forgotten
the language that used to inform my thoughts then
But when I am at the close
Turned to spongy skin
and become
part of the heart beat of time
through modest squeeze and swelling
Brief blubs of air
I will know all from that time
And how my heart had already broken
in ways it would repeatedly break later
(A life is the same patterns, running like film
that eventually ignites; burns inside the cylinder.)


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