Hand in Hand
For years he was lost in a tower of smoke.
Voices wove around his ears
as evening welled through the trees.
He was blind in one eye, and listened
for a song that might breathe
in this landscape of webs and deceit.
Far away, storms swirled and grew.
In this new weather, islands disappeared
and bodies floated awhile on the sea.
Someone discovered gold, but it scattered
like sand. It glittered on the mountains,
and many men fell to their deaths.
Many died, but a few got rich
and settled by beaches and palms.
Now they are lost in towers of smoke and ash.
They have tied a rope to the moon,
they have led their horses out into the dark night.
Hand in hand they call on sea gods to reinvent the world.
We lay ourselves down across the border,
and refused to leave. Everywhere sticks blew
about in the wind. My sister lay in the mud.
Her hair swirled and tangled as she clutched
the roots of a massive pine. At that time
of day, a multitude of birds scrambled
for nesting room, crying out “for shame,
for shame.” My brother walked around
breaking off chunks of bread, which he shared
until his empty hands were coated with crumbs.
Soldiers came and ordered us away. Their voices
broke in the bullhorns and were lost in the reeds.
Darkness slipped down from the hills. I heard
a child singing a village song about a white bird
and a girl who could speak the language of lizards
and snakes. An old man watched as the river
closed into itself. His thin face burned, his arms
dangled, loose threads trailing from a tattered coat.
Steve Klepetar has recently moved to the Berkshires, in Massachusetts after many years in Minnesota. His work has appeared widely and has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including three nominations in 2017. Recent collections include “A Landscape in Hell,” “How Fascism Comes to America,” and “Why Glass Shatters.”