Disintegrating photographs and
fading letters, the crumbling pages
of your mind. You even told me
five years before your
diagnosis that those memories
had already been unremembered
for some time. I accused you

of being purposefully obtuse,
denying when we were close,
all the times we went to The Strand,
to off-off-off Broadway plays,
always greeting me with a man-hug
as I emerged from the IRT into
your West Side. Oh, 110th Street,
men playing chess on those concrete
chessboards in the median splitting
Broadway. I can still smell the markets:
the glossy red cherries, the grapes, the
fish on ice; I can see gray and white pigeons
pecking at crumbs, hear the music
of intermingled English and Spanish,
watch my breath steam in the cold
as we walked. You can’t? These new

denials, these hugs pushed away,
these are jabs
from a punch-drunk Jewish boxer at a son
with a glass jaw. But now you have even hung up
your gloves, you say. You are done
with the ring. If anything
this makes me angrier. You won’t even fight,
not to remember who I am (which you will
for a while yet), but to remember why.

 

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