Day 11: Tupelo Press 30/30 Poetry Project ( National Poetry Month)

MY GRANDFATHER’S PORTRAIT


When the doors were closed,
the power was cut off.

My grandfather built that house.

When he left China
he smuggled fifty pounds of sugar.

Two bags were tied around his arms
and legs with his torn passport

and his mother’s broken glasses.

He wrapped the sugar in tiny little bits
and sold it in the black market.

He waited for a land owner standing
in a burnt field for seventy three days.

The owner said, “Cash only.”

After the war,

my grandfather used to sell linens
downstairs. But the office smelled like

calligraphy ink and cigarettes.

The iron stairs were by a street
lined with poplar trees. He did not listen to the radio

or records, but his feet tapped
rhythms like ceramic

marionettes in his dark room.