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Philip Levine - My Fathers, The Baltic

Along the strand stones, 
busted shells, wood scraps, 
bottle tops, dimpled 
and stainless beer cans. 
Something began here 
a century ago, 
a nameless disaster, 
perhaps a voyage 
to the lost continent 
where I was born. 
Now the cold winds 
of March dimple 
the gray, incoming 
waves. I kneel 
on the wet earth 
looking for a sign, 
maybe an old coin, 
an amulet 
against storms, 
and find my face 
blackened in a pool 
of oil and water. 
My grandfather crossed 
this sea in '04
and never returned, 
so I've come alone 
to thank creation 
as he would never 
for bringing him home 
to work, defeat, 
and death, those three 
blood brothers 
faithful to the end. 
Yusel Prishkulnick, 
I bless your laughter 
thrown in the wind's face, 
your gall, your rages, 
your abiding love 
for women and money 
and all that money 
never bought, 
for what the sea taught 
you and you taught me: 
that the waves go out 
and nothing comes back.

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Poet: Philip Levine
Poem: My Fathers, The Baltic
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