Mylėti Means To Love (Barely Known)

by Erika Rasmussen

Expanding and back
           the accordion sways in grandpa’s lap.
                       His voice bears that air, a bellow
           beautiful in song. Hands that
wave notes out of ear onto paper,
           something like Seneli’s own musical
                       historiography, his Lietuva
keyed into being.
Hands that graze notes deftly sweep
the pine needles from grandma’s
grave. That emptiness
                                                it scourges
                        but he has learned to make pancakes,
            to watch the batter turn golden, to ripen them with apple shavings and sugar.
Mama hands him a card from
his granddaughter, which he sweeps across the wall,
two thumb tacks.
So simple, aš myliu tave,
as in, I love you,
but in the heat of hypochondria
phone calls turn into a hoping
that death is not
                       squatting behind
                       the geraniums. Not sure what else
I could say. In the summer months he stays tucked
between           flowering balcony-red             bubbles
and in the winter months orange pots keep him
company in shelter from the grim cold,
days short and Baltic.

Senelis walks with me,
           a toes and grass grandpa,
barefoot through clovers, the earth
healing him bottom-up in the green sun.
Walks me through a pine and berry-damp day.

           I’m not so brave after what happened
with that bee, the stinger sticking bottom up,
           so simple, I love you. So much
           of my Lithuania.

 As the boats do, curved up around a smile, he laughs,
            cutting surface tensions smooth.

            As gentle gentle gentle
                        he laughs,
                        he rubs the dog’s head.
If sound is a metaphor
                                    my grandpa’s laugh is the vehicle
                        for tenderness. I’m not so good
at comparisons from across
                        all our water.

Losing language           word    for       word,
decoding sound bites into longing.
Something so simple, all that loving,
might go under,
           pine needles to match,

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