The hope a mooncalf follows
is sacrifice for slaughter,
and yet the wings of swallows
still skip across the water. 

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St. Martin’s Cemetery

New Derry, Westmoreland County, PA

Grandfather Lawrence, whom I never knew,
I wonder what appeasing light, if any,
may have eased your pain and strengthened you
as blind and bleeding underneath the many
winding caverns of the hellish earth,
your starved lungs gasping for a final breath,
you prayed for some miraculous rebirth
to justify the agony of death.
But what your friends could rescue from the ground
resembled only contours of a man.
And none dared utter words or make a sound
when Hilda (mother of my mother) ran
and tried to recognize your blackened face,
then covered it with light from her embrace.
first published in The New Formalist, Summer 2005
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© by Leo Yankevich