Joanne Townsend Two Poems
Ancestors for centuries the crossing of armies the changing of borders Several spellings, slight variations of a family surname. I am in Jerusalem, sitting at a computer in a tight room at Yad Vashem, searching the lists. Perhaps outdoors the sun is shining, perhaps not. Who is listed as dead with proof, who is listed as dead with hearsay, who has vanished, information unavailable? It gets harder to breathe--
Sleep in the Woods
Clouds Out a Train Window
Somewhere in Russia or Poland, maybe Lithuania, bullet holes mar a wall. Graves unknown or forgotten that no guests visit only the wind singing in an unknown key.
I ride in a passenger train across Montana flatlands. To the left are cumulus clouds on the horizon. To the right are cumulus clouds on the horizon. The clouds to the south look at the clouds to the north and are jealous, so they rise higher in the sky They loom, but remain far off across the plain. I feel sorry for those massive southern clouds. The northern clouds flee their advance. Still, the southern clouds rise. I try reason: The farther north you go, the sooner you become the thing you hate. North goes on and on through Canada to the Arctic with its pole. You will be northern clouds very soon. Your children will not remember southern ways.
Tygh Ridge I