Aunt JaneAfter the stroke, the wind blows everywhere.
Her nerves wander; blood loses purpose.
We take her from her bed in halves
while her eyes roll like marbles in a pan.
Once up, she discovers she can stand
and cries though she means to laugh.
In the whirlpool bath she plays like a porpoise;
while drying her, an aide curls ringlets in her hair.
Uncle LouieDivorce was a truancy for Catholics
who couldn't suspend the old belief, or sin.
Then, since he was a simple man, he drank.
After a long beginning, he found his niche,
as a hotel night clerk with elegant penmanship.
His singing buoyed him, even in "the tank,"
but only Ave Maria or a hymn
in a voice once pure as John McCormack's.
A Picture of My Grandfather at the Bank
The Ugliest Man in LouisvilleWe're Ashkenazic, I know. Look at him: a Jew
right off the boat! "Oh, Lord no." Mother says.
So, maybe my need is something else: thirty-five
years later, who can say? My heart's like a sieve.
Do I expect this remnant love for you to give
me a home -- or more ancient than that -- a hive?
Family and honey all around and youth that stays?
Or just eyes that look back, in love, as mine do?
This came out of my efforts to establish that we were part Jewish.
DNA evidence finally established it. 1/128th. A marriage -- or rape? -- back in the 18th century. Probably not from the Davis line, but from the Landes line. Bavarians. And maybe Landes is shortened from Landesman.