His house in Roumeli is rubble now.
My aunt returned with stones—
I keep one, small monument
on my nightstand—streams of white quartz
pressed, glittering in grey rock.
In the nursing home—the vinyl chair,
metal-framed bed piled thick with blankets—
I go to him.
He is tapping his fingertips together—
a silent rhythm
I have watched all my life.
At 102, he says there are so many things
not to think about.
I imagine breadlines, his savings
lost, his son dead at three years old,
all that was never said.
I clasp his hands; they are always cool,
as if heat must rise from too
great a distance. His skin is smooth
as candlewax, thin as parchment
or the membranes of wings.
I trace their raised lacery of deep
purple lines, like the veins of an ancient country
I want to know.
From Yaya’s Cloth (Iris Press).
Used with the author’s permission.