(Two grandparents)


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