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A Father's Education








Double Portrait (Chief Inspector Heinrich Benesch and his son Otto)

Egon Schiele, 1913, Private Collection

He would read to me

every night from the time I was three:

I would become a man of language,

a smith of words.


For every five dollars I put into my account

he would deposit one-fifth of the amount:

I would learn about money

(I bought my first bicycle).


He answered my every query

patiently and expansively:

it was thanks to him that I became a teacher,

also trying to do justice to any question.


A pilot and an airline guy,

around the world he would fly,

placing me on a path 

of learning and discovery.


He was a painter, a frustrated one

how much so I did not know until he was done:

he grew in me a love for art -

his works are on my walls.


He divorced my mother

for another,

the effect on the family was grim

for this I never forgave him.


Still, I had respect for his not overly complicating

our family life, by waiting

until my younger brother turned twenty-one:

his sense of responsibility also became mine.


He maintained a distance that caused me pain

at the same time as it proved a gain:

I became an overachiever,

seeking to win his recognition, his praise and his love


         - my father’s remoteness would be my fuel.

Click here to read in Spanish

Click here to read in Russian

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