for Ben, 1885-1971
for Sadie, 1888-1971
They died just months apart, made
twins by the desolate voyage, mariners
without a port, exiles together –
one pulled down into the end and then
the other, tethered as they were
to their damaged vessel, still somehow
afloat, barely, masts long-ago broken,
sails torn apart, something strange, slow
and powerful wearing away
even the dark polished oak, once thick
as elephant legs. And what they had left
was a leak-infested raft of a thing,
remnant, unsteerable, creature of tides
and storms. They roped themselves
to the hooks and rings that remained,
letting whatever prevailed take them,
surrendering to that fate, wasting, salt-encrusted.
Sixty-five years together in the silence.
Silence, silence, silence and the casual
passage of broken time.
The rabbi placed his hands on each
of their heads and spoke a blessing. She
the young redheaded immigrant, speaking
Hungarian, kosher, saying her prayers,
sweet faced, ambitious and afraid; and he,
the native-born poorboy, finding money
however, drinking, loving the racetrack
and the splendor of horses, singing
with the Irish in their bars. He fell in love
with her green eyes. Oceans, weren’t they?