For my Grandfather

When it was all over
when Hitler’s cross
had turned
like the wheel of fate
against itself,
spring was all he could see
at the window, and winter
all he could feel.
It sounded as if the streets
were a clangor
and the streets stood still,
all the same.
A nowhere of silver,
bright and fleeting as day.
New feet in the garden went,
new children playing
upon the grass,
and still the pensive flash
still the punctual hush.
An everywhere of green
that will say nothing
now of his Jewishness
nor of his lost son,
daughter and wife.
Only of the birds
that circled high
over his first love’s head
chasing her for days,
before he could hold her,
again —
His youth, back from hell,
barbed-wire all over
her soul.
Too late, said
his ache. Perfect
said his arms.
And to be sure
not to add a tear
to her eye,
he kept all the ash
stuck in his mouth.
That was the end.
That was their silent
start.

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