Grievance is impatient;
Grief is patient.
On the sidewalk outside the Millgate Inn,
in a baseball cap, with a catcher’s mit,
it waits at 4:15 P.M. Father had promised
the dunes sculpted by wind and water
last summer and all autumn then
Persona of the displaced roots,
the tiding stem that broke ground
in winter before one last freeze,
Only a slip of a feral bud speaks
but the scent of its voice drowns
in the evening bustle of bawdymen
roughhousing toward homekept ladies.
On the pavement so many once like itself
spread from the factory gate like Jews
rushing from Cossacks; the furnace
of the mill is the eye and the heart
of the Czar. The feral bud
waits for the thick hand
of its planter to pluck it up
into the swirl of homerush,
the scent of its voice on the ear
of the old man whose grace
levels the pavement. Today,
it will say, will we go Dunes–
to the dunes and write in the sand.
A strange rough cloth stands behind
the bud; it is the messenger
who carries the charred boot.
Dew on the first petal of the flower;
winter comes again. The street
empties while the petals unfold.
The tiding stem woodens;
it is a line pointing, a ray outward
toward the center, pistil and stamen.
Like a lump of slag, the seed planter
in a steel vase is lowered, is planted.
The sapling headstone erect without word.
He had wanted no words on him.
Give me a tree on my chest; it is best,
for I have made roots where there were
So I shall stand forever in the tree,
in one place.
Sea-oats imported, planted on dunes
that had long squirmed like a worm’s
belly on hot pavement, going nowhere.
The sea-oats’ dying blackened dunes
with their dust; they have reddened
sunsets with pollen, done the work of ages.
The dunes are a place or remnant of place
before the sea-oats worked it, drained
the tidal pools, and flattened the world
as it was. The sea-oats shaded the grass,
nurtured the feral buds,
became food for trees.
Be no flower on another man’s lapel,
he had said; be a wild rose
thorny and elegant and wild
like the grass at the dunes
The trees became houses then homes.
History began in these homes,
repeated the world as it was,
and that world as it was then
became the world as it is now
The Dunes. Sculpted by wind.
The furnace fires.
My father’s tree,
my tree, its roots in place.
Mississippian John Horváth Jr publishes internationally since the 1960s (recently in Munyori Review (Zimbabwe); Broad River Review (print). Pink Litter, and Olentangy Review). After Vanderbilt and Florida State universities, “Doc” Horváth taught at historically Black colleges. Since 1997, to promote contemporary international poetry, Horváth edits www.poetryrepairs.com.
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