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