POEM: Writing the Family History, Chapter Two
In the family
the females abound
who do not wed and
do not birth
they are strong and become
both mothers and fathers
to the children that await them.
The men do not fare as well.
In the same village
Cousin marries cousin
He is tall
all angle-formed from jaw to ankles
She is round
like goose-down pillows.
This village has been raped
(it is always one or both)
Massacres, massacres and more massacres
(every other decade it seems)
There were also these Poles there
in those camps
half of his family vanished
and despised Gypsies
and after a certain point,
who looked at you crooked
Causing such deeply embedded grief
Brutality becomes the learned weapon
Paranoia the chivalrous shield
And flowers everywhere
Wrapped around Maypoles
Outdoor altars in the hay fields
This is where one cousin-boy died
fierce red hair
his motorbike the only joy of being fast in the cows-time family village.
It was from alcohol otherwise.
The silent dreams that waken me
worse than gunshots I heard
in that old house on Beach Street.
Red and White Eagle
Polish flags flying in the middle of Little Puerto Rico.
Nationalism at its best.
Fierece, defiant and ignoring the obvious.
And always flowers every where
Red poppies this time
Tucked into 1950’s baggy men’s jackets with war medals.
Veterans with ulcers and canes.
This is what remains
of the Old Land here.