Saturday, August 01, 2009

Birth Marks

What do I owe the past.
I barely remember landfall in Halifax,
train ride through Quebec cedars,
arrival in Kitchener.

Family was a hint of somewhere else,
three slabs of history on a plate of Slovakia,
the Ukraine and Germany. The sun
glances off stories of when and where.

This week at work, I watched a woman
walk past the security hut, tattoo bright
on her left shoulder blade. It was
a blue butterfly, entangled in flowers.

I imagined her making a statement,
how she was unique – to the point where,
were she found dead in a Toronto
alley, her identity would be sealed

by that blue tattoo. My father once
attended an engagement party for
a very good friend of mine, my mother
away, visiting European relatives

and he told everyone who asked,
that the tattoo on his left hand,
the hand that stretched out naturally
in greeting, that the tattoo was

his mother’s name. He smiled as
everyone looked and passed comments
about the depths of his love for his
mother, the East Worker who, having

abandoned his home in the arms of the invaders,
never returned, though my mother says
he cried for a very long time when he
received the letter about my grandfather’s death.

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