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[Poem-a-Week] Elmer Almighty by Yvonne Zipter
My grandfather was a god to me, bronzed from secret Ashkenazi blood and tattooed with the scars of a workingman’s life. Mechanical things perceived his supremacy and did as he bid. Midas-like, he could transform trash into treasure, turned Goodwill garbage into a golden dresser graced with brass lion heads the size of quarters biting the rings of the drawer pulls. With his own hands, he built a house for his wife, the pine door frames bleeding the resinous sap of their marriage for years on end. He rose from the hard-packed earth of immigrant Milwaukee, an elm sapling growing as beautiful as he was sturdy. In the attic he shared with his brothers, I see him breaking the glassy skin of ice atop a chipped china bowl, mornings, to splash glacial water on his callow cheeks. It was so cold, he would said, with every telling, you could see the frost on the heads of the nails, which glinted, I imagine, like constellations of frozen stars he could touch, so close he was, always, to heaven. First published in Pittsburgh Poetry Journal, Summer 2019; reprinted in my Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound (Terrapin Books, 2020)
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