J. Estanislao Lopez: A Man’s Apology

I never heard the words from my father.
If you can imagine a slug
on a scrap of driftwood
in the middle of the Dead Sea,

that’s his position on the subject.
Let’s not talk about it.
Let’s ferry our bitterness a little further.
In the waters, calm and saline,

two men embrace, think the words,
and sink. They share one
of the three kinds of silence:
silence towards the familiar.

Colder is the silence
towards that which makes us feel
estranged. I try to remember
which of my father’s silences

tucked me in at night.
I wouldn’t call it distant.
I could feel its warmth
like a breath down my neck

turning each square inch
of skin to glazed stone.
Sons make beautiful monuments.
I know because I am the father now,

shaping a life I hope
might float on water—
but it’s the emptiness in a thing
that makes it buoyant.

Let’s not talk about it.
Let’s keep waiting for forgiveness
to arrive like a late tide, over which we have,
after all, such little influence.

Anger swells.
Why not forgiveness, too?

More by this author