The afternoon was overcast. I could tell, even if I hadn't 
gone out of the house all day. It was a day one could only
use for weeping, and then once that began to feel truly
pointless, one could turn it to some possibly more useful
purpose like cleaning, for taking up the never-ending
battle with the encroaching sense of damp and rot,
mildewed newspapers in stacks in the half-finished
attic, clothes stiffening into that half-dry, half-wet
state from not having been laid out in the sun. It was
an overcast afternoon. Curtains of grey outside
pressed on the naked windows in our rooms--
monsoon or not, unable to keep from leaking
like eyes with an uncorrectable defect. Nevertheless
he always sat by the window, cocooned in two
layers of robes; swollen ankles encased in socks,
the fluids in his deteriorating body surer
barometer for what weather came riding through
the clouds and over the hills like grim
vengeance. The film in his eyes was grey now,
too. As a younger man, even a man at what
is euphemistically called the prime of life,
those eyes were tinged a different, otherworldly
color, their mineral sheen unseen in these parts.
Blue, some said. Indigo, tinted emerald. Azul
y verde, like chipped glass masons sometimes
mixed with pebbles and leftover bits of tile
to make a plain cement border more than ordinary.
Who are you really? I'd thought often, especially
when he'd retire into that formality he favored,
especially in anger or displeasure. And yet
I knew that heat lived somewhere underneath
those twin orbs of floating ice. I'd heard
stories. Of a thaw, an unloosing. About how I
too sprang from that country: girl-child
sudden and new, upholstered against the flatness
of that previous wilderness where no seeds
flourished, policed by owls delivering
inscrutable messages all night. I'd seen it,
as others had marked it: uncanny resemblance
in the broad shape of our foreheads. A bulwark.
A tract. A defense. Not that I sprang from it
whole, Minerva-like. Not that he was immortal
or a god. Only and always my father; or half
of my origin story. And that's where
I always return in order to begin.

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