Here is a portrait of a man I once knew:
Holding his clove cigarette between his leathery fingers
And clutching protectively his
water-stained copy of Pudd'n Head Wilson

It's a weathered face, cloaked in laughter and wrinkles,
clouded with age and fatigue-
But it does not detract from the coffee-stained smile he has
as he gazes somewhere behind me

I remember (not from the portrait, though):
the sound he made when he crunched chicken bones under his palate,
and the smell of stale tobacco that announced his presence,
and the sweet taste of whiskey that he let me lick off his finger,
despite my mother's protests about the health of her child.

Now life is suspended in the ashes tumbling from his cigarette
and in the dog-eared pages of his beloved book.
That which is I in him is nestled in the creases around his eyes
This portrait is the last fluid memory of him.