Theodore Russell Weiss

1916 - / New Jersey / United States

Things of the Past

"Your great-grandfather was . . ."

And Mrs. C, our tart old Scots
landlady, with her stomping legs,
four bristles sprouted from her chin-
wart, she who briskly
chats away
about Montrose, founder of her clan,
as though she's just now fresh
from tea with him,
regards you
incredulously, a bastard gargoyle
off some bastard architecture,
one grown topsy-turvy:
"Not to know
your great-grandfather! How do
you live? O you Americans!"
cannot see what freedom it affords,
your ignorance,
a space swept
clear of all the clutter of lives
And yet who can dismiss
her words entirely? It burdens too,
this emptiness,
pervasive presence
not a room away that, no matter
how you hammer at its wall,
refuses to admit you.
As though
you woke and in a place you thought
then had a sense (what
is it that has been disturbed?)
of one you never met
yet somehow
knew—looks echoing among the dusty
that myopic glass
reflecting, like a sunset lingered
inside trees,
a meditative smile:
a breath warm to your cheek,
your brow:
the hand (whose?)
moving on your blanket in a gesture
that you fail to recognize

yet know it as you know
the taste through oranges of sun-
light current in them still—

then gone as you began to stir.
And for a moment dawn seems lost
as in a mist, seems wistful

for a feeling it cannot
achieve . . . the sun breaks through,
an instant medleying the leaves.
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