Father - Vikram Masson

I remember summers. He’s plopped in
his folding chair, painting the
bee balm with its cloud of butterflies,
the basket-of-gold rimming

the shrubs, the coral bell spires of green
and purple flowers. Drops of sweat
trickle down from his neck and jowls
and constellate his back. Oil paint

has smudged on his hands ‒ hands that will
soon quiver so that all his
sharp lines become impressionistic.
Then he will start to forget:

anniversaries, birthdays, the year
he came to America, until
he cannot plumb from his depths
a scrap scrawled with his son’s name.

Yesterday, my mother called and said,
All gone, doesn’t know my face.
He thinks he is aboard a train to
Delhi, and all his dead friends ‒

Raja Singh, Binny, that scoundrel
Mohan are drinking whisky
and jesting with him. As if the man
can hear their bloody voices.

He can hear them
mummy, I say.
They are as real as the willows
shrouding your garden, those pesky cicadas
that bore through summer mulch,

the streaks of paint on the veranda
where he proudly sets his easel.