Photographs of My Father


He died in March
and I didn’t want to look at his stupid face
ever again.

But I had to know.

I had to know what drew people to him.
I had to know if there was good in him,
I had to know, am I like him?

I see echoes of myself
looking back at me
through the years.

In this picture
our glasses are almost exactly the same.
And so we must,
at least in some small way,
have the same
Face shape
Sense of style
Lens on the world.

Were he still alive,
I would not want to see this truth.
But now,
it is a surprising comfort–
A connection to lineage I didn’t know I had.

For here he stands in the doorway absentmindedly rubbing the nail of his right ring finger
with the pad of his right thumb
while he’s thinking,
Just like me.

Here he stands in front of a hotdog stand
in a full beard of red hair and a bright orange jumpsuit.
In the same moment a fuck you to convention
and a longing to belong,
Just like me.

Here he stands in a captain’s hat and tie-dyed shirt
in front of his wares laid out on a blanket
on the ground at the flea market.
He is such a weirdo.
Just like me.

Here he stands, talking with his hands
Eyes on fire
Smile so wide
As he talks about something
He was making or
He cared about or
He loved,
Just like me.

Here he stands looking straight into the camera
A little defiant
A little wounded
Totally open,
Just like me.

And here he dances with my mother
when they were still together
and before they decided
they wanted me.