Home > 3. My Poetry & Translations, B. The Living Artifact > Angel’s Silence, a poem

Angel’s Silence, a poem

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File:Broadway theatres 1920.jpg

As loyal readers of this blog will remember, RT has been researching his family’s background. His greatest success to date has been creating a detailed chronology of his mother’s father, who was an actor on Broadway in NYC, and later on the west coast.

Each revelation concerning RT’s peripatetic grandfather has brought with it an ongoing series of reactions–he was cynical, carefree, an idealist, self-absorbed, or whatever, always ending with reflections on RT’s life and the life of his family.

Certainly one of the most intense moments in the search came when RT discovered on the Net two interviews that granddad gave, one in 1913, the other in 1927. He was able to read out to his mother her own father’s words–the first time she had ever heard them. She was 81 at the time.

A moment like that lasts–maybe forever, and in this case impelled RT to write a poem. Repeatedly throughout this genealogical hunt, he has realized how important intact families are; if we cannot be a part of one, then at least we can hope to recover the lives of its members. He has also been struck by how quickly things change in the world; it’s not just our ancestors we discover, but the world that they made. Here is RT’s poem:

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Angels’ Silence

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I.

so this is death—

a driving 70s beat on

the speakers, the names

sliding by—james taylor, paul

simon (for $6!), abba,

gandhi

 

the guy (with brillantine

blond hair)

at the checkout

 wears a pressed shirt

 & a “Win With Willkie”

 button:

couldn’t stand The Black Pearl,

myself,” he says…

 

II.

then there’s the matter of

grandfather:

you met him a couple of

 days ago–or was

 it 1913, at the interview with

 The Sun’s theatre critic?

You’re playing hooky!” he declares,

 proceeding to elaborate on his theme:

Be a sticking plaster; persevere

 in your chosen occupation!”

 

and he should know, thin as a rail,

dressed in rags, a boy’s goosedown

on his cheeks—

Betake yourself to a good school

 of elocution and dramatic art—then go after

 what you want until you get it.”

 

III.

but his attention has shifted, to your mother, a

girl with a barrette in her silver-blonde hair; &

he is taller now, wearing a gentleman’s jacket &

white tie—I can’t make out what they’re

telling each other, but presently,

 she turns to me and says

“Do you believe in God?”

 

well,

I could see that father and daughter liked each other

both raconteurs, deeply restless, their voices

beautiful & I realized that they weren’t singing

because I couldn’t; my skills coming from

some other spring, a place of bog and kelp and unknowing:

 a sip of life’s water.

 

So, the angels have reminded me: “you will be making the return trip,”

leaving these new buddies**********to get acquainted.

 

Photo: Broadway, 1920, Looking North from 38th Street; WikiCmns; LOC; Public Domain.

 

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  1. mj
    January 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Amazing where life’s wanderings take us… even as we wander virtually!

    • January 7, 2013 at 5:18 am

      MJ: sometimes it takes us to healing, a miracle of modern technology…RT

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