Monday, May 11, 2015

Keane Ekphrasis

We had some Big Eyes prints in our house,
probably Green Stamp redemptions.

A beagle puppy against a red brick wall,
crusts of bread on the hard ground beneath him,
on the right the diamond grid of a fence.
The rope around his neck was snapped,
so having broken free, he'd been impounded.
The outsize eyes looked up in a mix
of insolence and contrition.
It was in the boys' room, and I wonder if,
when they were grounded there, it spoke to them.

In my room, the pink room, a yellow cat,
plaintive and stuck in a corner (also red brick),
neck a long vase, the bouquet of its head
sprouting two lime-sized eyes.
Its tail curved around its front paw.

Cats were female, dogs were male—
the unwritten assumption in our house.

I had big eyes, but not as big as these,
with their manhole pupils. It was the seventies.
One night I came home late
from some extracurricular activity,
and my father inspected my pupils.
He shone light in my eyes,
but I wasn't high, had never been high.
It was just another one of his efforts to read me.
There were pages and pages of me for the taking,
but he wanted to read his own story. After all,
we were surrounded by pot-smoking teens.
He was a cop,
and saw a lot.

The cat was exceedingly scrawny,
those pupils a woeful well of acceptance.
Of course, I felt put upon and misunderstood.
One wall of the corner was in shadow,
the other bright. No collar on its neck, no broken leash.
The dog was a textbook bad boy, the cat a classic stray.