Michael Burkard reads

The Eyeglasses

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I examined my father’s eyeglasses late one Friday morning. I had to climb
to the bureau-top from a chair to do this. And I managed to drop the
eyeglasses and they broke. My father was to leave for a business trip that
very day, and the breaking brought on a confusion. I pushed them under the
bed—not well, not hidden. And I don’t know if the punishment was for
breaking them or for hiding them or both. And I don’t know if I broke them
intentionally or not, if I dropped them through memory to the floor so that
my father would not depart again. I tried pretending in my memory for 
years that my father himself broke his own eyeglasses, that he himself
dropped them in order to prevent himself from leaving, and that I was
merely a necessary pawn in this. And how could I forgive him this—for
who would want to take a train to a foreign city only to leave his family
far away? To leave a son who was the unknowing double of the older son,
to leave a daughter whose room’s high window looked out at the tree, the
moon, and the man who lived atop the telephone pole a street away.
Whose room was a wonderful stillness we each visited but in which we
never stayed. And a wife, a mother to three who would care of us as
much from sleep as from waking. Whose sister Dorothy lived with us
from the sea and lantern light of Nova Scotia though she was far,
far away. 

     What could he see with eyeglasses in a foreign city anyway, away from
us? What multitude of faces and voices could alter the longing of our loss
and tenderness? Were we tender? And if so, when? Whose version is as
valid as my sister’s room, or her quiet witnessing of major and minor light?