“The moon’s no bigger than my thumb,” he says,
holding his hand outward, steady before the star-filled
“Piece of cake,” he adds, patting his son’s head,
smiling invisibly in the dark of his suburban yard.
He laughs, he musses my hair:
“I’ll be back in seven days.”
And so my father flew to the moon:
a TV screen of blue and gray
showed me his distant steps,
his underwater gait,
relayed to all his crackling electronic voice:
“One small step for a man…”
In my dreams still
my father bounces over the lunar soil,
his face, not a face at all,
but the brilliant sun reflecting off his golden visor.
“The moon’s no bigger than my thumb,” he says.
These words echo in my ears
as I think of his journey home:
floating, silently, airlessly,
Icarus in a slow-motion fall.
Like clouds my children drift across my view
assuming shapes preposterous and unlikely,
ephemeral like whiffs of August.
I cannot take my eyes off them.
They hold me, riveted.
How can they be mine?
How can they come from me?
How can these beings, so wilful,
so brimming with personality,
goals, aversions, loves and fears–
how can they be connected with me?
I am captive on the grass,
flat on my back,
mesmerized by vapours,
which from moment to moment
change shape, grow, merge,
move to new areas,
first filling the sky with an awful presence,
then, minutes later, giving way,
to a pristine, untrodden blue?
For hours I watch them—
moving, growing, merging
and think that, to my own father, I too, must have been such a cloud,
changing at speeds no mortal could match, let alone rein,
I too must have been such a wonder,
spectacular, dangerous, fragile, unfathomable,
and always, heart-wrenchingly,
just beyond his outstretched fingers.