I still remember his hands –
they were musician’s hands –
though he wasn’t a musician.
They were lovely to behold,
in any case: their wide reach and
long, rounded fingers would have
been ideal for striking keys or
bending strings, perfect for
arpeggio runs or brooding legato.
I remember his smile, too:
bemused and somewhat mocking,
rarely full or unguarded. It said
to the world, I don’t completely
understand your ways, though
I find them amusing nonetheless.
And then there was his walk:
so typical, in my view, of the men
from his land of origin. They walk
stiffly, shuffling along as though
they are wearing ancient slippers –
golden slippers – ones you’d see
in Persian miniatures. He’d shuffle
along like that, with a marked waddle,
not exactly Chaplinesque but
close enough: a result, I imagined,
of his anatomy. Or perhaps it was
due to something more esoteric,
like the bodily memory of ancestral
landscapes that demanded just
that combination of shifting balance
and stride. One never knows.
It’s been many years since he shuffled
out of my life, yet these pictures remain.
My mind holds them up at odd times,
as if to say, So, what do you think now?
Is it a Rembrandt or a Picasso? Is it
coherent or a beautiful mess?
And at these times I become a tourist
in my own museum of the mind.
I wander through the half-light.
I look, I may even stare, struggling
to find meaning in line and form,
color and context, time and memory.
But inevitably these pictures
of the past never do make sense.
The ironic smile, the foreign walk,
the graceful, useless hands –
eventually, thankfully, I turn my back
to them all. I find an exit and walk away,
out of the confusion of yesterday.