In the low light by the river
my grandparents, so young,
stand in shabby coats and worn shoes.
The bridge casts violet shadows on their fear,
on the pine trees and frigid cold,
the black rage of Russia
an underlying hiss.
He knows he will leave,
the spoken goodbyes harder than hunger,
the thirst deep in him.
He will work and save,
send for her and the children.
He sees her tears and turns away,
his restless mind already in flight,
his feet tapping, tracks
that will fade to memory.
On the way to America,
those cold damp nights on the Rotterdam,
he hears the fading colors of their voices,
diminishing wave lengths, the tossing ship
and the shock of the lonely dark.
Joanne Townsend lived in Anchorage, Alaska from 1970 to 1995, and it was her honor to serve as Alaska State Poet Laureate officially from 1988-1992 and unofficially at the request of the Alaska State Council for two more years until the appointment of Tom Sexton. In December 2005 she moved to Las Cruces, NM which is now home. Her 24 poem collection Following the Trails appeared as an internal chapbook in Minotaur 55
(Minotaur Press 2009) She is currently working with 2 co-editors in judging poetry for Sin Fronteras: Writers without Borders 2018.
Also enjoy Joanne’s poem, “Summer Solstice”