His handless watch, kept dead for decades
in its violet sleeve, now seems to tick again.
My yellow Mid-Atlantic dust becomes
the grime of their horsed streets:
choked lanes of Vitebsk, Mariampol.
He was a pearl-gray spats, shined boots, straw
boater guy, knife-pressed; immaculate in the
surviving photograph, his hat cocked slantwise
on one pinstriped knee. Herself: a tiny force compressed,
stubborn as spring steel, widowed
by forty, who raised two kids alone and
turned down queued-up suitors, for past love.
I’m not their image; not the slightest
lineament’s fall. Yet now that fine first
dust floats down -- past Hamburg’s hulls, past
Henry Street where later it’s a park.
A fleeting stereopticon:
the tailor’s son; the dark-haired girl
white-pinafored at school -- limned
in the grit of the Pale. Ageing, we shrink
but grow again towards roots. The patterns call.
Their buried family traits emerge –
the sweet, the gall.
Poetica Magazine, Summer 2015