My poem titled "What I Say to My Birth Father as I Stand at the Edge of the Sea" appears in the Muleskinner Journal in a themed issue regarding "glitches" published on January 31, 2024. You can read the poem below or visit the journal here. The poem appears on page 85.
WHAT I SAY TO MY BIRTH FATHER AS I STAND AT THE EDGE OF THE SEA
Your journey begins before 1920, on a Friday
in Glasgow when you’re late for Shabbos dinner,
and your father demands you turn out your pockets,
throw a week’s worth of earnings into the street.
Deep water transforms you into a sailor,
although you lack a sextant, an opportunity to study stars;
you load and unload cargo, mop floors when you yearn
to hoist canvas, have a hand on the wheel.
When you reach shore, you cross the border that travels
Detroit’s river, arrive in a city, once ribbon farms, that sends
autos down assembly lines, a steady stream that spills
into a world far-flung from your father’s cold-water flat,
a restless universe hinted at in your father’s early journal
I suspect you never saw, where he recorded days spent
with his palette, brushes, attempts to harness churned sky,
the North Sea that, like him, you’ll never lay eyes on again,
and after a patchwork of years filled with late, Friday nights,
you find a girl who makes you feel grounded, like a Scottish
gentleman farmer, solid as stone, while she, young and fluid,
simply looks for a few evenings of shelter,
and one morning, in broad light, sets you adrift
with what hums in your ear—family at a table,
the heartbeat of a child you don’t know exists
—until you hit the inevitable snag, and claim
the earth beneath a rock in a sea of blue salvia and coreopsis,
far from where you started—just what I imagine you wanted
most—landing in this place where I, stunned to find you
after all these years, visit for the first time, pebble in my hand.