Dark skyline (view from Bloor & Dovercourt) by Grey van der Meer (source: greyvdm flickr)
“Papi, what’s a virgin?”
I asked him while we sat on the balcony of our Dovercourt apartment.
“The lady on that show, The Love Boat,
said the word virgin.”
He turned around with a start.
Mom was at work, so he had no choice
but to answer me himself.
Papi, gatekeeper of truths
who just couldn’t find the right key.
He sat straight up in the wooden desk chair
turned patio chair on our cement balcony
Tenth floor, white interior, white appliances
everything used to be so bright and new
until the clouds rushed in with the wind
and made the world go all grey
like a devil playing angel
with her golden sceptre, a hiding sun.
He cleared his throat and smiled at me.
“You know when the Virgin Mary had Jesus appear beside her
when he was born on Christmas? Yeah?”
he nodded without blinking,
his eyes pleading for me to accept
and to subscribe to this idea for as long as possible.
I shifted on my white plastic rocker.
It was shaped like a swan, you know.
The clouds had diligently flown through.
I looked up at Papi.
He had turned his eyes to the distant horizon.
It was blazing pink, orange and yellow as if powered by the fires
of my confusion and his lordly victory over
My friend, my dad, my king for a day.
Papi took a swig of his smooth 50.
Seeing him then, the questions kept coming to me,
but grey was eating at my stomach
making me keep the colors (they had names now) in my head.
It didn’t seem right to say anything anyway.
I don’t think it ever does, really.
But we do it anyway,
I was a 4 year old princess
empowered by the sting of curiousity.
Papi always had the right answers
that made me ask the real questions of myself.
– JV 2012