I wish I could tell you more about the man
bent over the drawing of his daughters
Sofi and Sonia, how like Saint Bartholomew
in Rembrandt’s painting, the man becomes so intent
that his pencil is now another finger,
and the man himself leaves, as though absorption
in what one loves calls the being from the body,
and being, the only true state, shapes the careful eyes
and lips of his girls. I would like to tell you the man’s name,
but I am sworn to silence on the prisoners I work with.
Were it possible to portray the man
accurately, his skin sewn in a tight weave
of tattoos, I would start with his eyes,
tell you how I see in them the brown loaves of bread
his mother made, his mouth about to form what he is unable to say.
What we cannot utter must write its meaning elsewhere—
the fragments of language building the innovative.
If there is a heaven of words, or at the very least
a storage place, what goes unspoken must send its roots
into a future we know nothing about.
It’s yard recall, but the man, still absorbed, draws
his daughters, his head so close to the paper
that he could be outlining himself—
the shapes of their lovely mouths,
butterflies with spread wings.
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