Isabalino Anastasio Guzman

My Grandfather’s Blanket

To Jose Guzman

 

This winter my grandfather puts away the blanket,
graying into old photos – torn and worn by sleep.
He presses it to the ear in remembrance of siblings.
Listen, he says, they play keep-away with my kaleidoscope. 
Turning a toothless grin, a sudden embrace cups
the gray fields over my head – they seem wet with tears.

I remember the stories of each tear,
the wars had for this one blanket.
And they would change with each cup
of coffee or tea: from Normandy-sleeps
to Cold War thievery – kaleidoscopes
to spy the changing brothers and sisters.

Near the end of each story, he interrupts: No, it was my brother! 
Then second guesses. Repeats. Corrects again. Just to tear
away from his gaps. Mend the truth with fantasy – kaleidoscoping
the ruby autumn leaf with a budding broken branch. The blanket
rests as relic. A crown to earn. A dream forgetting to sleep.
But the real memories smudge at the bottom of his cup.

When grandpa isn’t looking, I’d pick the grains from his cup.
To listen or taste them. To understand my own sibling
too far, too old, to hear or see sleep.
To understand the empty rooms fastened to our tears.
To remember and imagine moments being tucked in, my blanket
far too big. The details snap and twist in place – my own kaleidoscope. 

And why do the colors change in memory? Why must kaleidoscopes
turn in silent heartbeats? Why and how does its mirrors cup
each secret in the infinite folds of each turn? Does this blanket
hold all my answers? When I was ten there was a time my sister 
buried it in the garden, grandpa’s eyes are wailing in tears,
to keep the seeds warm. To bring radiant dreams in frost-sleep.

And now it’s time for it to sleep,
the job finally done. Wrapped in his old kaleidoscope,
he places it in a trunk – kissing the lid. Why do tears
drip and slide down our cheeks? Why must I cup
them to my mouth instinctively? It was a loss of a sibling,
several siblings, from the past and into our future – our blanket.

We will buy a new blanket, but continue our restless sleep.
I will think of my sister twisting in time’s kaleidoscope.
I will cup my goodbyes. I will learn to shed those tears.

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