Last survivor of small Bronx family
(still here, waiting to be voted off the block),

who can recall the smell of burnt chicken dinners
of the poet-mother, distracted, mind-wandering through metaphors
as one more sad bird turned black in our GE electric broiler,
this mother, so sensitive, creative, inveterate nosh-er, lover of conversation,
dispenser of free late-night wisdom, yearning, driven,

the last too who saw the tired father fall fast asleep in his red leather chair,
soon enough to awake, to head off once again to the cutting tables in the shop, shlepping to the subway, leaving in the dark, returning the same, devoted man, fixer of things, sculptor, man for whom driving through blinding snowstorms for a son or grandchild was no big thing, just something that needed doing,

the last who remembers the older brother, now eating at the dinner table, lost in
the pages of the NY Post Home Edition, lost in thought, reading Murray Kempton, sitting at the table but already far away, man of many movements, inexhaustible energy, a life forged by a family, a neighborhood, a high school newspaper, though rent strikes and picket lines, from downtown to down south, the organizer, the journalist, the dissector, always preoccupied, forever present but absent, committed, frenetic, running till the very end.

The last to remember the laughter, the tears, the small apartment, the paintings on the walls, the passion, the intensity, this drama without intermission, the long run, our small stage, the inexorable moving forward into life and death.

The survivor remembers Apartment 1C, the four small rooms, the door, doorbell, peephole, the vast unfathomable Cosmos within, the worlds being born, the way matter discovers form in showers of light and fire.

June 6, 2017

All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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