In the latest edition of “Village Voice,” Jim Braude and Margery Eagan celebrate Pride Month with poet Richard Blanco.
Blanco kick-starts the show with a Father’s Day throwback poem, “My Father, My Hands.” It is an exploration of how poetry serves as a way to recapture the essence of loved ones lost.
Blanco goes on to share reflections on Pride Month. Including concerns on big issues that surround Florida, the good work Equality Florida does, and he shares the poem “Between [Another Door”].
“The poem comes from a collaborative project I did (Boundaries) with photographer Jacob Hessler, and deals with gender normativity, heteronormativity, and also connects with Gov. DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill…” Blanco shares personal experiences of how poems can “open people’s minds and hearts.”
Enjoy the poems listed below as they are read and discussed.
My Father, My Hands
by Richard Blanco
My father gave me these hands, fingers
inch-wide and muscular like his, the same
folds of skin like squinted eyes looking
back at me whenever I wash my hands
in the kitchen sink and remember him
washing garden dirt off his, or helping
my mother dry the dishes every night.
These are his fingernails—square, flat—
ten small mirrors I look into and see him
signing my report card, or mixing batter
for our pancakes on Sunday mornings.
His same whorls of hair near my wrists,
magnetic lines that pull me back to him
tying my shoelaces, pointing at words
as I learned to read, and years later:
greasy hands teaching me to change
the oil in my car, immaculate hands
showing me how to tie my necktie.
These are his knuckles—rising, falling
like hills between my veins—his veins,
his pulse at my wrist under the watch
he left for me ticking since his death,
alive when I hold another man’s hand
and remember mine around his thumb
through the carnival at Tamiami Park,
how he lifted me up on his shoulders,
his hands wrapped around my ankles
keeping me steady above the world, still.
Between [Another Door]
By Richard Blanco
[the door] Between playing dress-up, parading in his mother’s pleated skirt, marvelous as her clip-on ruby earrings, or noosed in his father’s necktie, cuffed by his wristwatch ticking with his pulse. [the door] Between playing house with his cousin’s Barbie dolls, or careening his toy truck through backyard mud. [the door] Between the coloring book prince he was supposed to be, and made to color in blue, or the princess dress he dreamed of wearing, colored in pink. [the door] Between the Wonder Woman lunchbox he pleaded for at KMart, or the Superman backpack his grandmother chose for him. [the door] Between his face slapped for putting on a plastic tiara at Craft World, or praised by his grandfather for wielding his plastic sword. [the door] Between cowboys shooting Indians with his brother’s cap gun, or sipping make-believe tea with his cat Ferby. [the door] Between what he could grow up to be: a doctor or nurse; a fireman or secretary; an astronaut or housewife; but never both. [the door] Between hula-hooping with the girls at recess, or dodging the boys who’d trip him, shove him, bruise him. [the door] Between the razzle-dazzle of pom-poms he longed to shake, or the boredom of football games he couldn’t follow. [the door] Between the soft wrist of the first girl he held hands with, or the stubble of the first man he kissed. [the door] Between mother’s head-bowed shame at the dinner table and his fear of father’s inch-wide belt on the hook. [the door] Between their small-talk about his homework, and their silences about his friends. [the door] Between lying to a priest upright in his chair, or lying with his truth on a therapist’s couch. [the door] Between playing it straight, or leaving town for the rest of his life. [the door] Between loving the only way he could love, or loving a gun to his head, or opening [another door].
This episode first aired on Boston Public Radio on June 20th, 2022.
Image credit: William Font @unsplash.com