A Portrait of My Mother’s Lover as an Anonymous Man

sometimes, you reduce him
to this:
the place at the back of his head
where the hairs have begun to fall out
still, he becomes the size of a small balloon
swelling in your chest.

he sits on a chair in front of a house
you are afraid of everything your father’s eyes have touched
these walls too
where his picture hangs soft with a bricklayer’s hand
and his secret women
how, like the old boulders by River Ethiope,
they have become alive with pain.

how my mother’s husband sits in this picture holding a tobacco pipe
legislating love and pain between puffs
everywhere you see a crack on the wall
your heart breaks open some more.