A man works on making peace with the memory of his boxing uncle in this poem from Guillermo Filice Castro.
Self-Portrait with Boxer
Sorry for slamming the green metal door
That blackened your left eye. Sorry if
I had already drum-slapped your bald head, yanked on belly hairs,
All in the room where you botched the slaughter
Of holiday birds and the pronunciation of foie gras.
Sorry I found it amusing to see you weep with such flair
Under the eyes of Evita and Ceferino Namuncará
Who hung childless and saintly on your wall. Sorry
I was such an unabashed asshole fifth grader mocking
Your third grade education, slick enough to know
You’d forgive and once again rig card games in my favor,
If not cheer me on whenever I shadow-boxed on a box spring
In emulation of the flyweight life of your youth,
Jab, jab, left cross, hook, and uppercut, head bob, head bob; un-
Matched men touching other men the only way
They knew how, for profit, in exhaustion, gored. It must have
Really hurt, Uncle; sorry I lost your wedding ring.
First published in The Brooklyn Rail (April 2014).
Read more of Guillermo Filice Castro’s poetry.
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Photo by Justin Wagner /Flickr