From the First Weeks in New York, If My Grandfather Could Have Written a Postcard

By on Jun 16, 2013 in Poetry

Immigrant peddler with postcard

if he had the words, the
language. If he could
spell. If he wasn’t
selling pencils but knew
how to use them, make
the shapes for words
he doesn’t know. If he
was not weighed down
with a pack that made
red marks on his shoulder,
rubbed the skin that
grew pale under layers
of wet wool, he might have
taken the brown wrapping
paper and tried to write
three lines in Russian
to a mother or aunt he
might never see again.
But instead, too tired to
wash hair smelling of
burning leaves he walked
thru, maybe he curled
in a blue quilt, all he had
of the cottage he left
that night running past
straw roofs on fire,
dreamt of those tall black
pines, but not how, not
yet 17, he will live in
a house he will own,
more grand than any he
saw in his old country




Lyn Lifshin has published over 130 books and chapbooks including three from Black Sparrow Press: Cold Comfort, Before It's Light and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Before Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle, Lifshin published her prize-winning book about the short-lived beautiful race horse Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian and Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness. Recent books include Ballroom, All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially The Lies, Light At the End: The Jesus Poems, Katrina, Mirrors, Persphone, Lost In The Fog, Knife Edge & Absinthe: The Tango Poems . NYQ books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also just out: For the Roses, poems after Joni Mitchell and Hitchcock Hotel from Danse Macabre; Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle and Tangled as the Alphabet,-- The Istanbul Poems from NightBallet Press. Just released, as well, Malala, the DVD of Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. The Marilyn Poems was just released from Rubber Boots Press. An update to her Gale Research Autobiography is out: Lips, Blues, Blue Lace: On The Outside. Also just out is a DVD of the documentary film about her: Lyn Lifshin: Not Made Of Glass. Just out: Femme Eterna and Moving Through Stained Glass: the Maple Poems. Forthcoming: Degas Little Dancer and Winter Poems from Kind of a Hurricane press, Poems and Paintings from Tangerine press and The Silk Road from Night Ballet, Ice Maiden from Transcendent Zero Press