Thursday, April 7, 2022

My Father's Father

How he made his way, 130 years ago,

from there to here. There,

being this very spot in today’s newspaper

fertilized by dead bodies

in the indifferent spin of seasons.


How he hid from the clean chin and moustache,

buried himself in a cellar of potatoes,

how he got here riding a shoot

of the potato, swallowing his scream,

boots across the nonsense of borders.

How he staggered into steerage.


I know this because no one ever spoke of it.

I know it as the truth of my imagining.

I heard all the silence of the sorrows

my father had swallowed

yet how gentle he was as if sprouted from weeds.

He bloomed between thorns.

Now the children's children 

of Cossacks are falling

from clean, shiny mines and bombs

in the cyclic atrocity of history

while others are huddled in cellars.

Do they hear echoes of hooves overhead?

Have they visions of black tubers or know

of their fallen on top of the bearded fallen?

Can new light, briefly gorgeous, emerge 

through the shrapnel of thorns?