Her memory of him
was layer upon layer
of clear, thin paint—
dark hair silvered with age
and a face that flaked like chips of oil
wafting onto the floor.

She remembers how lovingly
he rendered her mother’s face—
light of touch
and perfect execution
emerging from the canvas of childhood
under time’s insistent strokes.

“She has her mother’s eyes,” they said.
But it was only a painting.
Her mother’s eyes, she thought—
Her grandfather’s soul.

WrittenJanuary 2004

Author's Note

The title Haraboji is the Korean word for “grandfather.”