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poetry A Rhyme of Two Fathers

Seattle poet Jed Myers puts himself in the shoes of a Mexican father as two men plan to cross international borders.

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A Rhyme of Two Fathers

By Jed Myers

I wait in the TSA Pre✓ line,

dark blue USA passport in hand.

Tomorrow my love and I will land

in Milan. We’ll see Jesus dine

 

with his friends through Leonardo’s

miracle screen on a convent wall.

Meanwhile, another man, tall

and thin-boned as I, drifts in a bardo

 

on the Mexican side of the river,

waiting for dark. He’ll cross the water

into a next life, joining his daughter

his son his wife. The rosary shivers

 

as his fingers work bead to bead.

His eyes are brown, like mine.

His dark hair’s gone silver as mine

at the temples. His shaving cuts bleed

 

an identical red. My sweetheart and I

shuffle nearer the uniformed man

who’ll wave us on through the scan

to our long night’s flight. As we fly

 

the river-watcher will be burning

to enter the murk, his resolute silence

the absolute opposite of the violence

he’s left behind. There’s no turning

 

back. That life’s drenched in death.

We’ll ponder the troubled Disciples,

while my double crawls past rifles

aimed in the night at stopping his breath

 

should his river-wet cheek but shimmer,

should he leak one bit of that radiance

lit in his chest. His slink the cadence

of snake, he makes himself dimmer,

 

gray as late dusk paints the shade

under the brush. He could be fresh dead

as we view the fresco, an infrared

scope catching the heat he’s made

 

and him in the dirt on the Texas side.

Or will my twin play ghost so well

he slips through the ICE-men’s last veil,

visible only when he need not hide?

 

Sounds unlikely as bread and wine

become the living body and blood.

But my brother’s feet in the mud 

in the river, oh, those could be mine.

Jed Myers lives in Seattle. A writer of poems since childhood, he began seeking publication after the events of 9/11/01. He is author of Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award) and The Marriage of Space and Time (MoonPath Press, forthcoming). Recent honors include The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Prize and The Tishman Review’s Edna St. Vincent Millay Prize. Recent poems can be found in Rattle, Poetry Northwest, Southern Poetry Review, The Greensboro Review, Terrain.org, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Solstice, Canary, and elsewhere. He is Poetry Editor for the journal Bracken.