This doctor’s office reminds me
of my grandmother’s apartment
in the Bronx , with its white-tiled
bathroom and traffic noise.
There is the smell of old masonry
and car exhaust, of plaster
and used chairs. A brass lamp
drops light over the magazines.
I wait for the psychiatrist. She is
an hour late without excuse.
What am I doing here? The sun
warms Central Park a block away.
And so, doctor, I reach back
into the memory of bus horns calling
along Pelham Parkway years ago
when I lied on the bed in my dad’s old place.
Grandma knelt on the bathroom floor,
her arm plunged to her elbow in the toilet,
cleaning. She looked up at me
as I walked toward the door to the elevator.
I never saw her again. The hot white
steam pipe in my bathroom
brings back winter in her place
with pots boiling on the stove
and news on the TV showing a snow storm.
Here in this room where I wait,
I wonder at the rush of wind in the ceiling vent,
where it goes, and where it comes from.
The world is turning black and white.
Even traffic lights are shades of grey.
Unshriven, I leave this place,
the metal door closing with a thud.
In everything my father gives me
there is some tiny flaw.
His wingtip shoes
almost the same size as my feet
have little cracks
where the upper
hinges at the toe joints.
His custom-made dress shirts
imported from Hong Kong
have minute ribbons of sweat
staining the starched collars.
And the band of the watch he said
he paid so much for
is peeling apart
in ever so slight a way
from its Chinese
split leather construction.
But I am happy with these hand-me-downs.
They are his legacy.
Even his shadow that I walk in
is botched with light
spilling in from the holes
of his parenting.
There is something in the darkness of his giving
that makes all light seem brighter
and every defect
cry for perfection.
Andrew Spano’s work has appeared in P2/Fort
Point, The Endicott Review, The Pelham Parkway Times, The
Emerson Review, Conifers, Heartland Magazine, Burlington Review,
Milkweed Chronicle, and PKA’s Advocate.