Michael H. Levin: Poems and Prose
(A family tree)
At dusk they rise from misty ground --
dim shapes that drift ethereally,
attached, yet not: the severed limbs
of cancelled trees cut off at joints
or stumps sawn down, who rise at dusk
from disembodied ground.
Attached yet not, one trims precisely reeds
for his bassoon, starched concert collar
sepia-brown: fingers round stops
that make no sound. One trundles his way
through freezing slop, trusting in luck
(though crowned with sleet) to mute surrounding
enmity. Three sisters straight
as saplings crash cadenzas towards
three different fates, while refugees --
attached, though not -- form
silent ranks of drowned-out pleas.
Behind, grey hosts of those unknown
trudge by and peer elliptically.
At dusk they rise from ancient ground,
by time dispatched: ancestral eyes
which still can see; vestigial branches
that still veer and sway. Attached yet not --
felt absence linked familiarly,
these phantom limbs accompanying me.
First published in 2016 Anna D. Rosenberg Award Collection (Poetica, Sept. 2017)