I have two paintings of you,
in my room, in my home in Negros,
watching over me.
In a cafe, listening in on the conversation
of the table behind me, in every sarcastic comment,
I hear your voice, I hear your laughter.
In every art gallery, I can see you
tracing a circle in the air and reciting
the name of Italian painters.
In the middle of a traffic jam,
I can feel your anger rising
and can hear you cursing the high heavens.
In the movies, that moment I gasp
when all the elements come together on screen;
I can hear you say, “Now, that’s cinema.”
Tattoos; books; classical, folk, and country music;
exotic cuisine; when people talk of history as if it happened
just yesterday; when someone forgets the word he’s looking for;
tufts of long white hair, and every time someone doesn’t want
his picture taken
you are there.
I see you.
You are there.
I look at the mirror and I see my face
and I trace a circle before me
and whisper, “Ghirlandaio.”
I whisper, “Caravaggio.”
And I hear you whisper in my ear,
“Now that’s cinema.”
(for my Dad, on his seventieth birthday. Happy birthday, Dad!)