by Dan Gerber
My mother weeping
in the dark hallway, in the arms of a man,
not my father,
as I sat at the top of the stairs unnoticed—
my mother weeping and pleading for what I didn't know
then and can still only imagine—
for things to be somehow other than they were,
not knowing what I would change,
for, or to, or why,
only that my mother was weeping
in the arms of a man not me,
and the rain brought down the winter sky
and hid me in the walls that looked on,
indifferent to my mother's weeping,
in the rain that brought down the dark afternoon.
Dan Gerber's most recent book is Trying to Catch the Horses (Michigan State University Press, 1999). "The Rain Poured Down" copyright © 2005 by Dan Gerber and reprinted by permission of the author.
From http://poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=171141 accessed 5/17/08
When I passed him near the bus stop
on Union Square while the cops
cuffed his hands behind his back, while he
said, “I didn’t do anything,”
I didn’t either,
do anything but look away,
a little afraid they might cuff me
if I paid too much attention,
and walked on still wondering
what he might’ve done
and still more what I
Christmas Eve 1944
He remembered his mother singing
“Silent Night” in German
and how odd it seemed, now
we were bombing the people
who sang in that tongue.
And just down the road, in a maze of barbed wire,
under the watchful eye of a gun,
soldiers who would sing Stille Nacht
were being kept in the snow,
waiting for the war to be over.
In the hall outside his bedroom,
a painting one of the men had done for his mother,
who supplied him with canvas
and all th
e colors he remembered
of his home in the snow that was falling there, too,
if the bombs weren’t at that moment, also falling,
or even more likely if they were,
his wife and two daughters might still be singing
through what seemed to him, now,
the not so quiet night.
A Star at Dawn, a Bubble in a Stream
And what if it’s true,
as my mother insisted in her final years,
d never married, never given birth,
that the memory of my childhood is a story I was told,
or concocted from old books and movies,
that I may be the product of someone else’s dream,
set free like the second stage of a rocket,
to dream and imagine even more?
But then there are all the old photographs
and a birth certificate, though I’ve never seen it,
the recounting of my twelve-pound delivery,
my first spanking at sixth months
when I stiffened out in my high chair,
the legend of my learning to walk,
grasping the fur of my Great Pyrenees dog,
my first historical memory, the day the war ended
in August, two
days after I turned five,
my first day of kindergarten and six more
decades I’ve spun out
to convince you, imagined reader,
busy as you must be
with your own anthropic freight.
Three poems from A Primer on Parallel Lives, Copper Canyon Press, 2007.
From http://www.coppercanyonpress.org/catalog/dsp_bookDetail.cfm?Book_ID=1272 accessed 5/17/08
Dan Gerber was born (1940) and raised in western Michigan. He has published novels, essays and of course poems. I haven't met him, and I don't know where he lives or works now. I found his book A Primer on Parallel Lives at the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library in Midland, Michigan where I live and work. See http://www.lib.msu.edu/coll/main/spec_col/writer/MWCDanGerber.html for more info on Dan Gerber.
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