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by Elizabeth Iannaci

The photograph is distorted. It is
a photograph of a photograph. The only one
my half-sister managed to track down
in her search. He is surprisingly young.
A good man. Brother to the Onondaga Indians.
Perhaps loved.
It is a good face.
An open face. Not yet beaten
by a love he would never possess.
An artist who put aside
burnt sienna and cerulean blue
to rise at six and work a lathe
to support the woman with
two small girls. The woman
with raven hair and fiery temper.
The woman with Betty Grable legs
and a voice like velvet.

The same face that asked those questions
knowing, but not admitting
their terrible answers
too blindsided to understand, a six-year-old
doesn't know a woman changes her brand
of cigarette to that of her new love.

I look at that face and remember:
      a glint of gold when he laughed
      boney knees when he'd bounce me and sing The Big Rock Candy

strong hands rubbing my feet so I wouldn't get frostbite
the green Pontiac with the rust spots—Pontiac was a great Indian chief
Chesterfields peeking out from his work shirt
an eagerness to explain to two small girls how thunder is born
his look as we left on the Greyhound bus
the only time I ever called him Daddy.


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