Summing Up


This is where they said to put down roots:
in the black dirt of Detroit
in a tired immigrant street
in a small brick house
next to aunts, uncles, cousins.

Stay, stay they said when
I said I was afraid. Walls rise up
like trees, I said, and roads tighten
round like a belt. They said
we are the circle here, and

Abraham's blood flows in you
through all the generations.
In your melancholy song David sings
so stay, stay
. When I cried
my shoes hurt and my coat is too small

they said, it is only Mother Rachel weeping
in you for all her children who have fallen away
When I looked past the flat town to
where the mountains soared beyond
they said, there are no mountains. Stay.

Stay. When I said roots that are too deep
grow houses made of stone, without light,
without windows. They answered
your ancestors wait at the edge
of the dark, stay, stay
. But I said

a life needs roots that dangle in air
and a heart that unfurls like a leaf. I left.

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