thFrom Germany to Australia your parents fled
the brush of taint
your mother a beauty
your father with only enough room in his heart
for singular devotion
when she died, cut down by trolley car in front of you
aged six, catching the splatter of her broken skull
he took you into his bed to make up for her absence
you grew wan on divulgence of sin
til neighbors found out and your doors were broken
three men in uniform standing around the bed
get out they said
the smear of their inferred condemnation thick in your ears
like river mud swallowing you up among grubs and slugs
who blames a child for her abuse?
those who know nothing of truth, shining their finery with glass
you walked the line all the way to a foster home with metal teeth
thrown out at 17 for falling in love and shaming their Baptist ideals
as you and he prepared to marry he rode his bike in the night to pick up
his mother’s narrow ring
skidding on freak ice on the way back his head caved in like an exploding star
you stood at the altar alone waiting
impatient clock showing
he will not attend
afterward with nothing, there was no reason to stay
someone said like they do before you pass 20
let’s go to India
so you packed up your emptiness, put your leather sandals on
high in the Himalayas you caught the fever and nuns with tight wrapped mouths
whirled with lines and decay
nursed you as you slipped in and out of consciousness
liquid and sorrow pouring from you in bucket loads
a miracle! they announced when clawed your way back
what did you have to live for? being the whispered irony
and there, in the desolation of knowing nothing you walked
kept on walking until your feet blistered and your soul took flight
in the low hanging mangrove trees
where at night the shadows looked like an epiphany and you decided
I will return to my native land, the one of my ancestors
you wrote a distant aunt, she replied; come to the black forest we have
mud that will cleanse you of your sorrow and broad-shouldered men
Germany with its fairy tale castles and starched people rolling their own
you clambered over your wreckage, beginning again as only the young can
a flutist falling in love with your dark eyes and shiny thick Germanic hair
a marriage led to loneliness, he toured, you waited, touching his absence
with lightest fingertip
until it seemed being without him, would fill you more than staying put
traveling to Greece alone, you burned and burned and burned
turning yourself into oak
a waiter slept in your bed and kept you cool
against the battering murmur of sea tapping at french windows
life grew inside of you
when you took your first real job in London’s garish metropolis
heaving with anticipation and empty suitcases of hope
your daughter gave you the first peace you ever knew
a perfect child with a little mouth and large eyes
your Greek baby she lay in the curve of your hips smiling
and you breathed, deeply, and slow
like a long traveled bird finds purchase and easement
on empty shore
she, with her little tiny fingers and little feet
died of crib death just as
a match can be blown out never to
be re-lit
feeling like she hadn’t existed and she couldn’t be gone
here was your second decade of sorrow
etched between your fine eyes and deep clavicle
WHY? was not a word you used
absent of all
living only because your chest deemed it necessary to rise and fall
in time to your still-born ache framed
in reluctant silver requiring continual polish
you wanted to hurl yourself out of existence
yet you flourished as if life had said
we have taken and now we nourish
you grew successful, wealthy, every night you tucked yourself up
alone in a singletons bed
until the smell of the sea on the shores of Australia called you
it’s been eighteen years and it’s time
to come home
passing over Sydney Opera House you saw
the curve of sky and water meet
something within you released
he seemed to be waiting in the first corner you turned
as if always there, just ready to reveal
his promise to stay
with time they say pain subsides
which you know isn’t quite true
though love can keep together broken halves
by its stubborn hold on people who
would otherwise fracture and become
light on water skimming surface
it was not fair,  it was not right
now you are back in your homeland where
you began and will draw to a close
I hope
with the knowledge that even lives
built on pyres can hold
depths we release like night birds
flying unseen