Poems of Place & Displacement

Where I Come From

From bird wings
flattened on the storm window,
from icicles nested in honeycomb,
from frozen breath held in the lungs,
from waves solid in winter ponds.

You see that coin, that silver dollar
suspended in the ice rink?
Iíll get it for you
if itís the last thing I do.

We chip at it with shovels
until the frozen layer
weíre standing on caves in.
You grab at my scarf, my shoulder:
Iíll hold you up, I tell you.
You wonít drown.
We trudge back through fields
of trampled rye grass,
unsettle a grid of nettles,
a snow veil over berry bushes.

Behind the chinchilla house,
behind the anchored plow wheel,
we make a fire with our fingers
touch the boy sweat ringed
under thermal clothing,
minutes freeze in the air as
we breathe in white cloud vapor
flying off each otherís tongues.

During the month of the thaw
you join the swim team,
where I stand fixated
at the sheen of new muscle
treading chlorinated water,
your lungs heaving out,
arms arched forward
for the trophy. I tell myself:
I wonít drown.

At home, in bed,
a transistor up to my ear,
I remind myself
this is where I come from:
from the place
where the wigged diva sings:
Macarthurís park is melting in the dark.
That note at the end
sustained for so long.
How can she do it
without taking in another breath?
Iím pretending that itís me
becoming invincible
in that stretched out note,
handing you that elusive silver dollar,
the blaze of rue and hollyhocks,
the first gust of April,
the sparrow broken on the sill,
coming alive with your heat.

Photo Credit: US National Oceanic
Atmospheric Administration

Copyright 2007,  Gerard Wozek

Gerard Wozek's first collection of poetry, Dervish (Gival Press, 2001), won the Gival Press Poetry Prize.  He teaches literature and creative writing at Robert Morris College in Chicago.  His most recent book, Postcards from Heartthrob Town (Southern Tier Editions, 2006), is a collection of short travel stories.

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