My Son Wants to Know Who His Biological Father Is

Blas Falconer
My son wants to know 
his name. What does he look like? What does 
he like? My son swims 
four days a week. When my son swims 
underwater, he glides 
between strokes. When he glides underwater, he is 
an arrow aimed 
at a wall. Four days a week, his coach says, 
Count—1…2…—before 
coming up for air. 
My father had blue eyes, blonde hair,
though mine are brown. 
My father could not speak 
Spanish and wondered, How can you love 
another man? We rarely touched. 
When my son 
is counting, I count 
with him. I say, I am 
your father, too. 1…2… 

More by Blas Falconer

Use Your Words

You said bad men waited inside
your mouth, which meant a fire
 
was catching. We drove toward
a cloud of smoke that rose above
 
the city. In the mirror, I saw
the wide belt strapped across
 
your chest, and on the radio,
men stormed the gates
 
in another country. I do
love you, you said, looking out.
 
The window held the sun
flatly. I held my breath. The brush
 
had not been cleared in weeks,
and the mountain prepared to burn.

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Of the Threads that Connect the Stars

Did you ever see stars?  asked my father with a cackle. He was not
speaking of the heavens, but the white flash in his head when a fist burst
between his eyes. In Brooklyn, this would cause men and boys to slap
the table with glee; this might be the only heavenly light we'd ever see.

I never saw stars. The sky in Brooklyn was a tide of smoke rolling over us
from the factory across the avenue, the mattresses burning in the junkyard,
the ruins where squatters would sleep, the riots of 1966 that kept me
locked in my room like a suspect. My father talked truce on the streets.

My son can see the stars through the tall barrel of a telescope.
He names the galaxies with the numbers and letters of astronomy.
I cannot see what he sees in the telescope, no matter how many eyes I shut.
I understand a smoking mattress better than the language of galaxies.

My father saw stars. My son sees stars. The earth rolls beneath
our feet. We lurch ahead, and one day we have walked this far.