Father of Clarity

A poem for Sunday

A metal cage sits on cracked, dry ground
Luis Manuel Diaz

Each day the same now:
I wake her up—she’s a woman
in the making, and me,
I’m still a boy, given this responsibility
of another, and my boy,
he’s visiting his mother, one
thousand miles away. We drive
to school each morning, discussing
the state of all things—
how she will need to use my razor
blades, for my legs, she says,
and armpits, except she doesn’t say
armpits, she says for under my arms.
I mention the color of the sky
at 8:15 a.m. being something like
the color of her eyes seconds after she was born.
She responds by asking me
what verisimilitude means, and I tell her
to look it up. These are
the particulars of raising Rumi.
Not like when we would once hold hands
and write our names in the snow.
Not like when she would fall asleep
in the bicycle seat tethered to my back
as we rode down Colorado pathways.
This is El Paso, the face without
makeup. We cannot hide behind
hiding any longer. The dry cycle never dries the first
go-round. Living alone is learning
to speak for both sides
of the conversation. And God,
isn’t this true? And God replies,
it is only verisimilitude. Lately, I don’t have
much to say, except I wish
I could go back to Hejira and
that rainy cafe in Asheville, North Carolina.
I wish I could go back to the back
of the beginning, try again. Like a video game,
hit the reset button, throw
a love tantrum, force round pegs to fit
my square anatomy. I’ve always wanted
a kitchen with a view of both sides,
and now I’ve got two, El Paso / Juárez.
It’s like looking through a kaleidoscope that refracts
the surreality of our days. See here,
a mountain preaches, with accent:
La Biblia es la verdad, leéla.
See here, the river howls in American twang:
Go back to where you come from.
Between the two, a chaparral bows:
This is not what brotherhood looks like.
This is not the conversation for Rumi, though.
She reminds me of this. Held up the bird.
Unnamed still. Trained it to land on her finger.
How it returns to its cage when it flies
too far. I’m the opposite. I return to flying
when I’m too far in the cage.
She’s always been a friend-soul
to me. More than a daughter.
The hierarchy is this: I make her
eggs with arugula and toast. She eats them.
We attempt yoga in the mornings.
There is a peacefulness in our routine.
We don’t speak about the day
when all of this
will be nothing more
than a poem.