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
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
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 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,
back to University & College Poetry Prizes