To Abu Ali Al-Hasan Ibn Al-Hasan Ibn Al-Haytham

Brooks Haxton

I just found out, Hasan, your full name means

Father of the Most High,

the Good or Handsome,

son again of the Handsome,

son of the Young Eagle.

I am son of Kenneth,

son again of Kenneth,

which means Handsome, like Hasan.

My first name Ellis also, like Ali,

claims God as my salvation.

As for Haxton: in your time, I think,

in Hawks-town, my namesakes trained falcons,

not the Sons of Eagles maybe, but their kin.

Our names are synonyms.

But more than that, Hasan,

though dead a thousand years,

you came to me when I was young.

When I taught children in sixth grade

to make a pinhole camera

from a cardboard box,

with photographic paper for their film,

although I did not know it then,

this was a gift I passed along from you

to them, and inside this

they formed from light their images.

One girl I taught that spring

spiked such a fever in her brain

she died. At twelve from a mosquito bite

she died. They dug her grave nearby

in Minnesota where we lived,

in the state of water mirroring the sky.

But first, Hasan, because of you,

a thousand threads of light

inside the darkness of a little box

preserved this image of her face.


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