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

once none.

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.

 

 

by John Horvath Jr

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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