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(For Oskar Burstein: Petrograd 1922 -- Maryland 2016)

The scars that date to Luga

now are still; big hands that bowed

the cello, silently at

rest. Those other scars -- from

famine, father, Siege; blind

GPU arrest, two camps,

an airless aftermath --

re-forged: cold-welded in

a steel determination

that the Headman must not win.

That song and blood ties,

pulses in a secret heart,

would not be waived.

And so all guests were family

at your table’s toasts:

both those who haltingly

dropped by for fear of being

marked, and we who came there

later, late in life: the welcome

shifted to a foreign land that

was not strange -- was home, because

you dreamed it all your days. Your

bear hugs and irreverent joy among

pink redbuds and magnolia flowers

a coda to the dark hard times.

A middle finger raised.

An endless chord.

First published in 2016 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award Collection (Poetica, Sept. 2017)

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