FROM THE CHAPTER 16 ARCHIVE: This poem originally appeared on March 1, 2013.
A Warm Day in Winter
The leash looped around my wrist, we stop
to let the dog piss across a trunk—
the branches stark this late in winter,
though everyone is out, spreading blankets
on the grass, eating with plastic forks.
We amble across the park without purpose
or direction, our wheels pausing
at stick and stone before we jostle on,
your eyes attuned to every first, fixed
upon the few leaves above, withered
but holding. You flail your fists
at the small sky, the brief light it carries.
Tomorrow, the cold will rush back
into the city, and neither you nor the dog
will understand or remember, though
you might respond cheerfully, not knowing why,
when we return one day in spring. I try
to see as you, without likeness or memory,
as I did the night that you were born.
Before, I couldn’t guess your complexion,
the color of your eyes, the mark that spread
across your back like a map of the world.
I told myself it was because you didn’t come
from me, but Mother says it was the same
for her. At once, the thought became the form
as in the myth, the woman springs
from her father’s head, your face determined
in its particulars, the forehead’s frown
beneath lamps that kept you warm, the hoarse cry
as you expelled the first breaths of air,
so in my arms, at last, I didn’t know you,
but looked in wonder all the same,
noting how little you weighed. You will not
recall any of this, of course, which seems
a shame, when you are older, how
I fed you through the late hours in a room,
sterile and cold, but for paintings of landscapes
much like this one or how we walked
along the row of trees avoiding roots
that surfaced, and stopped awhile
beneath an elm on a warm day in December.
Copyright (c) 2012 by Blas Falconer. All rights reserved. Blas Falconer is the author of The Foundling Wheel (Four Way Books, 2012) and A Question of Gravity and Light (University of Arizona Press, 2007). The recipient of an NEA Fellowship, the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange, and a Tennessee Individual Artist Grant, his poems have been featured by Poets & Writers, The Poetry Foundation, and Poetry Society of America. A coeditor of Mentor and Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets (Southern Illinois University Press, 2010) and The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity (University of Arizona Press, 2011), he is an associate professor at Austin Peay State University and teaches in the low-residency MFA at Murray State University.