Sintra

By Gail Mazur

Featured Art: Composition by Otto Freundlich

In your office, you, mastering the art of Photoshop,
scanning a crumpled snapshot, 3 inches square,

of your father, poolside, jaunty in a blue swimsuit,
his straw fedora at a rakish angle,

carrying two splashing cups of bica toward your mother.
Beaming, gallant, tanned, grinning for her camera.

That was in Portugal, in Sintra—
the village Byron called “most beautiful in the world.”

In the old cracked photo,
part of his naked chest had flaked away:

under the glossy surface an ashen patch.
Forty years later at your desk,

filial, in a fantasy of surgery,
you worked your laptop to repair the wound,

dragging pixels of skin tone, of mortal coloration,
from his right side to his left.

A new skill mastered, new language, new tools
that restored but couldn’t save.

I watched you transplant a blush of skin—
a tender ministry, your digital touch

lighter than a kiss—not unlike a kiss—

exactly where his heart four decades
earlier began to falter. As yours, invisibly, did now.

—One of those days we both still thought that somehow
with the proper tools, there was nothing you couldn’t fix.


Gail Mazur is the author of 8 collections of poetry: Nightfire, The Pose of Happiness, The Common, They Cant Take That Away from Me, Zeppo’s First Wife, Figures in a Landscape, Forbidden City, and Land’s End: New and Selected Poems. She lives and works in Cambridge and Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Originally published in NOR 18: Fall 2015

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