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
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.
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