18 Apr 2010

Philip Levine’s “MY FATHERS, THE BALTIC”

Low and gray, the sky

sinks into the sea.

Along the strand stones,

busted shells, bottle tops,

dimpled beer cans.

Something began here

centuries ago,

maybe a voyage,

a nameless disaster.

Young men set out

for those continents

beyond myth

while the women

waited and the sons

grew into other men.

Looking for a sign,

maybe an amulet

against storms, I kneel

on the damp sand

to find my own face

in a small black pool,

wide- eyed, alarmed.

My grandfather crossed

this sea in ’04

and never returned,

so I’ve come alone

to thank creation

as he would never

for carrying him home

to work, age, defeat,

those blood brothers

faithful to the end.

Yusel Prisckulnick,

I bless your laughter

thrown in the wind’s face,

your gall, your rages,

your abiding love

for money and all

it never bought,

for your cracked voice

that wakens in dreams

where you rest at last,

for all the sea taught

you and you taught me:

that the waves go out

and nothing comes back.

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