by Seamus M. Murphy

My buck-toothed & aching father would laugh
at things he didn't understand.  Aaron
had a star & crescent moon beneath his
eye & he'd lie down at the barber shop.

Red used his hand for a razor strop,
& long leather hanging down gave a laugh
to the other men & they watched Aaron.
I would watch my father's wary eyes.  His

big, stained teeth would strain his laughter & chop
the air around his face.  Aaron's star & his
crescent moon could have been the sign of some
witch, or of an Arab flag that he had come

to love, or merely something that was his
& would belong to him even when laugh-
ter died away & he would be Aaron
in the infinity of the mirrors.

I began to see my father's terror
at what he might be missing in the laugh-
ter of the other men, the razor strop,
the star & crescent moon beneath Aaron's

eye, & the watching child that was not his.


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