Study and Infinite Variation

Dear Gabriel, Little Mayor, Little
Angel of the short clipped wings,

the Saturday afternoon buzz
cut and men’s manicure: now I am

at least ten years past the age
when you took your marriage vows,

defying your mother who couldn’t
stand your bride’s seamstress hands,

the smell of rice husk, snails, corn
fields in her hair. Closer than ever

to my own hibernal, still I don’t see
the lines unblur in our genealogy.

In front of the produce bin, I try
to read between lines of graffiti

sketched on the deep plum slate
of eggplants, recall the names

of various peppers you taught me:
Cubanelles, Habaneros, Thai bird

chillies. Who are you, really; and where
are you from, though I know you’re half

of who made me? Summers, we took a jeep
to the beach, where I helped to bury you

up to your neck in sand for your annual
cure. You fell asleep, face shielded

by a hat; then hours later, broke through
that flimsy tomb and, laughing, ran into

the foam. Damp haunches, I’m still here:
pondering the shape you left in the loam.


In response to Via Negativa: Spell.

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