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(After Roman Vishniac’s Storekeeper, Krakow, 1938)

This figure in his doorframe

is my father’s father, surely:

massive and thin-lipped, a

Michelangelo in ripped

buttonless coat.



yet immense as gravity

he fills the spavined entry

with abashed endurance

as though sensing

in the dust of worn steps

in the sluices of morning

the sharp shameful pang

of times being born.

On an oblong of sky

angular as a coffin

the day accumulates

like sand.

Version first published in Midstream (April 2003); reprinted in Watered Colors (2014)

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