To see my father not seeing me with
one eye, and with the other
fogged by glaucoma—iced connections
in his head, scrambled heaps of images,
the seaside, the earthquake—I remember
sitting at the same table. Smoking the same
cigarette, drinking beer. “Tell me,”
he said, “do you have any mind in that
head of yours? Do I have to shake it out
for you to understand?” I shrugged.
Then a short slap, and here I was,
red left cheek, not knowing, not
seeing where it came from. And then again.
When it all ended, he came to hug me
as if someone else had done it. Like I’d
forgotten everything and was ready to feel
the smoke entering my lungs again—a friend
told me it’s strange that I still write
about smoking—, still with no difficulty
I clean my face and smile and love him.
And now, when I look at him looking through me
I catch a bright reflection of the light
right under the blue, matte eye, right
when it gets cloudy and wet, and he remembers.
Tiberiu Neacșu is a Romanian poet, author of two full collections, and a translator of American poetry, including the work of Peg Boyers, Frank Bidart, and Lloyd Schwartz. His poems are published and translated internationally and have most recently appeared in The Shallow Ends.