Dust in the Streets
My Uncle Alfred lies in New Jersey, 
my parents off a highway in New London,
my stepmother in Boston.
And then there are the ashes scattered
without stones, generations of the burnt 
and pillaged, all over Europe,
those lost to memory, living on in poems.

I can’t sleep. At four the cat follows me
into a dark room and purrs under my left hand
as I write inscriptions for family tombs
in my lap. We’re surrounded by shelved books
and tomes in piles on every side.
They lie like closed eyes
at night or the ledgers the Germans used
to settle their accounts, boxcars of fillings
and ashes. I’m out of memories and facts,
my disc-drive frozen, my dump truck empty
of dirt. The promise of America and the auto
tore our little family in different directions
geographic and otherwise as if to complete
the work of the Poles and Dutch, the Swiss
and Germans. We’re like dust in the street
dressing the bright lights of Broadway.

Photo by Rich/Adobe Stock


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