My grandfather was a god to me, bronzed
from secret Ashkenazi blood and tattooed
with the scars of a workingman’s life.
Mechanical things perceived his supremacy
and did as he bid. Midas-like, he could transform
trash into treasure, turned Goodwill garbage
into a golden dresser graced with brass lion heads
the size of quarters biting the rings of the drawer pulls.
With his own hands, he built a house for his wife,
the pine door frames bleeding the resinous sap
of their marriage for years on end.
He rose from the hard-packed earth
of immigrant Milwaukee, an elm sapling
growing as beautiful as he was sturdy.
In the attic he shared with his brothers,
I see him breaking the glassy skin of ice
atop a chipped china bowl, mornings,
to splash glacial water on his callow cheeks.
It was so cold, he would say, with every telling,
you could see the frost on the heads of the nails,
which glinted, I imagine, like constellations
of frozen stars he could touch, so close
he was, always, to heaven.
by Yvonne Zipter, from Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound (Terrapin Books, 2020)
buy link: https://www.terrapinbooks.com/store/p32/Kissing_the_Long_Face_of_the_Greyhound.html
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