How Martin became his father

 

At some point in their lives all children
think they're self-created. When Martin was young,
he used to look into the mirror,
where his reflection told him
he looked more like himself
than like his parents. Some things changed:
the August sun kept darkening
and parching his lean face. His hair turned silver.
These shifts came very slowly; he was acclimatized
to each development in a steady, gradual way.
One day he opened up a book -- a photograph fell out,
his father at work, younger then than Martin now,
and he was walking out of a room with the same stride
Martin recognized as his. And on another day
he noticed on the picture on his driver's license
the wide, high cheekbones of his father's family.
And in the slow emergence of his father's hands
in his own

blunt fingers, square palms,
broad moon-nailed thumbs

he saw that time works change not from the world,
but from the inside out.

 

Spillway, 8 (Fall-Winter 1998): 31.

© 1998 by K.J.H. Berland

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