For the Record

My grandmotherís
was drowned
by Turks in Bitlis.

In 1918, her father
died in Fresno
of tuberculosis,
aged thirty-nine.

After the influenza
rode the street car
into the Pacific Ocean
with the Depression
on its heels,
her crazy brothers
and cousins sold papers
on the street corners
and brought
their nickels home.

A few dusty miles
down the road,
in the river town
of Kingsburg,
my motherís grandfather
played his trumpet
in the city band.

Later, when he was old,
he had a drooping
gray mustache
and wore a black hat
when he drove
his horse and buggy
through the soft
spent grass alone.

Now heís somewhere
out beyond, riding
through the valley fog,
past gravestones
in the fertile ground.

October 22, 2005

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