The only picture I have of him
is tucked, secreted away
in one of my desk drawers.
I know nothing of him, really.
Looking at his picture I see
that he was a tall man,
in a plaid shirt left unbuttoned,
revealing a flat narrow chest,
then downward are
longish legs in black pants
and bare feet. His feet are my feet,
flat, nearly arch less, graceless
wide feet with short toes, almost like a ducks,
hailed as Flintstonian and Neanderthal
many times in my life.
I wonder of these replicas, of how his feet once
flowed freely in the dust of the Midwest,
back in Oklahoma during the dustbowl
disintegration of the 1930’s.
Did he cry? Did he crumble like his crops
when he saw it all slowly stripped away,
the dryness and draught turning the land
into a useless endeavor?
Was he broken when she left him with three
children, only taking the youngest to the
sweetness of the central valley?
He was left abandoned with only a tin trailer
and a tent that the children had to cake clay into
the canvas gaps in hopes of forbidding
entry to the ever inching cold.
Was he ashamed, angered or a complacent
Cherokee man? Hard and bitten like
the stories I have heard? Did he dream of days long
since past? Toil over past trespasses or daily strife?
I romanticize him. Fasten words on his memory
like stalwart and stoic
which the man had to be
to wipe his ass with a corn cob
and save it for later for kindling.
My great-grandmother never spoke of him
except with bitterness, tempered contempt.
Still beneath the years, the mythology of blood lines
flows back to me, somewhere within the
dry, cracking, shedding snake skin of this photo
the sexless, onyx eyes that stare out at me
remain indecipherable. Perhaps the same kind of
man as myself stood. with his
feet in the dust waiting, amongst ruins,
for a good year’s reign.