Portrait of my Father

Cathleen Cohen

I seat my father near the door
for some slight illumination
of his skull, its ridges

and hard boned wings
sitting sentry above
the cadence of his eyes.

They flick to inner voices
or sometimes to me, silent daughter
wielding a brush.

I used to believe
the more I stared, the more
would be revealed.

Now I render dad’s cataracts
sepia, as in old photos,
framed and safe.

His soul gets evasive, confronted
head-on, so I stand to the side
for a three-quarter classical view.

Dürer painted a window
onto the orb of his eye in portrait,
entry or exit?



Cathleen Cohen was the 2019 Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, PA. Her poems have appeared in Apiary, Baltimore Review, Cagibi, Chrysalis Journal, East Coast Ink, 6ix, North of Oxford, Philadelphia Stories, Ritualwell, Rockvale Review, and “Camera Obscura” (Moonstone Press, 2017, chapbook). “Etching the Ghost” (Atmosphere Press) is upcoming in 2021.