Farewell, Jacobo and Paulina
By Richard Fein
Unsidewalked muddy streets of your village emerged from your burly speech,
as did wooden walls housing prayer, ritual, chant, swaying bodies,
those walls painted with the floating gait of an antelope, with doves
hovering over a zodiac, with two rampant lions bearing notched tablets,
with flaming antlers without a body, like twigs on fire.
All this you pictured around the kitchen table while each of you pointed
an index finger upward as if those images survived steerage
and resided in our cramped apartment, there, there,
within the receding projections of the cornice bordering wall and ceiling,
your old eyes and my child eyes peering at the convexed molding,
you remembering what was once first-hand to you, once as immediate to you
as bulbous green glass on power lines or embossed manhole covers are to me.
Farewell, Jacobo and Paulina, your memories, tinged by another century,
were marooned on our sepia-Europe photos, while your old-country gab
was like a drawer of coins and paper money that have outlived their
yet the two of you stare at me in your inlaid oval frames
as if a transparent embalmment lies between your faces and the glass.
O, Jacobo and Paulina, your very bodies were creased with accents
and strains you brought to me over versts, steppe, taiga, your speech
near the stove’s pilot light that whooshed flames to outlying jets.
Copyright © 2020 by Richard Fein.