My Father Speaks of Japan

By Gianmarc Manzione
Originally published in Iodine Poetry Journal Spring/Summer (2006): 29-30.

My head bald as the blue globe
he fingers in the light,
tracing the painted borders
of my wonder,

I ask him to show me again
the world where people spread sheets
under a momentary overcast of cherry blossoms,
but I do not tell him

the huge shadow of his hand across
the bedroom wall is itself a world,
how even that expands around the room
into a cyclorama of dream,

which also is a kind of cancer
when the anticipation of finality is the thing
it thrives on, what keeps it rowing further into itself
as though it would survive me,

how the quiet left behind
when he leaves the room
whispers to me what most girls never know:
That I am a flaw

confined to time, though not the time of clocks
but rather of the hysteria of cells,
the number of days it takes
to turn the body toward its final error.