Thursday, June 15, 2006

Off the Record

In the attic I find the notes
he kept in college
over forty years ago: Hooray
for Thanksgiving vacation! he wrote
in the margin of Psych 102.
And for a moment I can see him there,

feel the exuberance surge through
that odd cell of his body
where I am still
a secret code uncompleted, a piece
of DNA, some ancient star-stuff.
And then I find a recording of me

from 1948, when he was twenty-two
and I was three, and I can see,
from my perch up on his shoulders,
him stopping at the gaudy arcade,
plugging his lucky quarter into
the future where we'd always be.

Maybe imagination is just
a form of memory after all, locked
deep in the double helix of eternity.
Or maybe the past is but one more
phantasmagoric invention we use
to fool ourselves into someone else's shoes.

It is not my voice I want to hear
on memory's fading page, on imagination's disk.
It is my father's in the background
prompting me, doing his best
to stay off the record, his hushed
instructions vanishing in static.

Ronald Wallace

2:29 AM