In those days…

In those days, when Heim was still well,
walking three miles every morning,
silver hair under a broad-brimmed hat,
hands in the pockets of his linen jacket…
In those … halcyon days,
when I walked miles every morning, too,
sometimes with Heim, sometimes with his daughter,
speaking in little but German,
your name on the tip of my tongue —
three abreast, we, a living parable —
Heim, in his eighties, heels clicking,
a smart crease in his pants,
sometimes an arm around his daughter’s shoulder,
names on his tongue, too:
the boys: Dieter, Horst, my father…

Someday soon, love,
you will be without these allies, all so old,
or grown old too soon, like I have,
and I wonder if you will know this joy once more,
or if you will pretend,
or will you follow me?
Were I the sort, I’d beg you come along,
beg you not shake down witch doctors in their homes,
beg you simply slip away, then slip away some more;
you know where I’ll be.

I told you…
If you choose to love me,
they will destroy you, I said.
You will evermore be as a wraith among men.
If you choose to love me,
mine will be your only rewards, I said.
There is no weapon but private counsel;
no weapon against their whispering gallery;
they do not feel shame.

You pointed through slatternly sun at Serrano,
legs crossed in a chair on the crest of the hill,
holding his head in his hands,
preparing to recite, between puffs,
a memorized stanza from the Cantos…
I pulled you out of the sun,
into a nearby alley, said,
If you choose to love me,
my enemies, my father’s enemies, my grandfather’s…
will be yours, also.

You drew me out of the alley, into that light
for which I was no match, held fast my arm,
you no wraith yet…

Heim, an arm about his daughter’s shoulder,
called, waving his hat from the top of a stair.
I could not breathe. I was not breathing. Any longer.
You carried all 101 pounds to the brim of Cerro,
put me in Serrano’s lap.

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