Somewhere Near Odessa, 1900
In the low light by the river
my grandparents, so young,
stand in shabby coats and worn shoes.
The bridge casts violet shadows on their fear,
on the pine trees and frigid cold,
the black rage of Russia
an underlying hiss.
He knows he will leave,
the spoken goodbyes harder than hunger,
the thirst deep in him.
He will work and save,
send for her and the children.
He sees her tears and turns away,
his restless mind already in flight,
his feet tapping, tracks
that will fade to memory.
On the way to America,
those cold damp nights on the Rotterdam,
he hears the fading colors of their voices,
diminishing wave lengths, the tossing ship
and the shock of the lonely dark.
Go to the Poet Laureate Prompts for a short bio. of Joanne Townsend.