I’d help him weed his garden,
and once a toad jumped near my hand, the dirt
springing to life.
green thumb hovering over roses.
Then the grass sprouted white dandelion heads.
His first stroke wiped out his English.
Looking at us, his blue eyes
empty, he’d ask my mother,
Wessen kinder—whose children?
and we’ld run out to the fields, without parents,
and chase the viceroys that flamed over goldenrod,
the whole world burning and summer
nearly done, each day
the dark closing down on us
sooner, and then the ground, suddenly one evening,
cold to our feet.
Apples softened in the grass;
his broken trellis leaned by the toolshed door.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 5 Number 2, on page 49
Copyright © 2020 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com