Excerpt from a short story, in the Lower Haight last night. (To go directly to my reading, hit playlist and scroll to number 5. You can tell because it looks like me and not a very nice 40-something man.)
It could, I suppose, be any where in the world, any season:
a light rain
on red tiles
over which people skitter,
thrown like leaves on the warm-cool air.
In my mouth the ebb taste of a long held wish
To be the inheritor of exile
is to be born in search
and doomed to continue.
Yet, rain and its awaking smell
alive and mineral;
Yet time drifting over me
once and again
each brusque wash thief of sound;
Yet the click and release
which grows less definite, but more sure:
my great great grandparents hover behind me
a few Saltines they have snuck along
for the journey.
I hold their hands in mine
soft as paper folded and refolded.
I raise their hands
to kiss the palms, and the slow wrinkles,
firm and focused as I would the lips of a lover,
discovered beneath flotsam of distraction and nervous noise.
I know less now
but that wish goes hushing in spite or because of my own losing track,
its rigid fire goes dampening–rain, in any alphabet, spells home.
I murmur to the quiet watching of this circle of elderly ghosts,
“And if we call it by a new name? not lost or fleeing, not exiled any longer…?”
A great great grandmother bends toward me, Saltine extended,
in creaky voice replies,
“Have a cracker, bubeleh.”