Conversations of Our Blood

That his father brought the butcher up
to tattoo a watch in indigo
on my grandfather's wrist
with the time his steerage
would unbound its lines
and sail,
not for a new world,
just a different one,
is as true as this sky I could love.
But please, only you
of continents abandoned
pass judgement,
only you of quarantine
and the various cleansings
and the dialects
impossible to understand.

His mother wrapped some bread up
in a white square of light
and from their stone house on the hill
they must have walked
north to the station
across the pasture
and followed the tracks
in what must have seemed
a moment outside the world,
the gray dawn coming down
on their sweet and level plain.
From the station they traveled
further north
in a crowded common car
that must have lulled them to the harbor
and the great pushing
mass of men like him,
and their women
dragging children through the mud
and the green confusion,
his father not stopping
to wave from the dock,
his wrist burning the blue time.

By the fish smell and oil drum din
he bedded down
something in my chest tells me.
With his blanket
I imagine him mark out his place.
I rub my face
to try and find
the shape of his jaw
and I do, and his love for the good drink
which is never the last,
and the startled look of surprise
always in our eyes
and the pull of him,
like a wire, in my heart.

The years I didn't know mattered
must have been those
black wings that passed through us
and were gone.
I finally took the slow,
heaving ferry out
to where you waited
your long Ellis Island hours.
I tried to find a column
you would have leaned against,
a window out of which
you would have seen your world
taking shape
across the river we stole, Grandfather,
as we stole all our rivers.

óBruce Weigl