As the first cotton seeds broke
and the fluff floated about in the fine breeze,
we ran in circles, you and I, catching the handfuls
only to blow them around;
there was so much to laugh about, drenched in thin shreds….
Safe in your hefty hands I spotted my first bird—
An oriole among the neems; you named it for me.
When you stood with that distant look in your eyes,
coffee-cup in hand, and recited the long narratives
of the nineteenth century poets,
I heard the brooks and hills of some far away land
resound with your clear voice of unreason.
Down by the sea, you and I stood amazed
and watched the sun like an upturned pot
shrink and spread out…between the palms—
sand tingling our eyes and legs.
You had nothing to call your own
not even your beliefs, but only a store of tales about your self
which I listened to wide-eyed.
You’ll leave me one day, I know,
like everyone else—an old man, bald, wrinkled, acerbic,
among the aging, dying, parting…
You are no seer, nor even unwise enough
to counsel me. Your wisdom lies like a nimbus
around your portrait that I disfigure.
My mirror does not lie to me about your face
that infringes on my brow.
The plovers leave and return,
the coconut fills with juice again and again,
the jasmine blooms out of all seasons and the cotton seeds break
all day… O father shall I break this mirror
that reflects everything in the obverse?