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About this Poem 

“As a child, one of the first questions I asked my paternal grandmother, Jean Blecker Levin, was ‘Where are you from?’ Her answer, ‘Lithuania,’ was my first introduction to geopolitics. Though she could describe her early memories of her family’s small farm, she could not point out her birth country on a map or globe because by then Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union. At the age of three her family emigrated to Reading, Pennsylvania (the hometown of Wallace Stevens) and began to run another small farm. There she met her husband-to-be, Joseph Levin, a Reading native. Her romance with my paternal grandfather lasted until her death.”

—Phillis Levin

Lithuania

Phillis Levin

 

in memory of Jean Blecker Levin

Not a trace, those days, not a sign
On a map of where you were from,
That farm greener than green

Rolling hills, hay high as a barn
Under skies without end, joy
Rolling too, the way it used to.

Now that you’re gone,
The name of the place reappears.

*

Not a map in the world
Will show where you are,
Now that you are long gone

Under the glowing ground,
Lending yourself to the grass,
Joined at last by Joe, who cried,

As they lowered you down,
“Jenny my love, my life.”

*

Wherever you are, being
Nowhere, show me a way
To be here, you who are gone

Into bottomless loam: ivy
Climbing the walls of waking,
The walls of sleep, show me to

Two on a porch waiting
To see the flesh of their flesh.

Copyright @ 2014 by Phillis Levin. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on August 20, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by Phillis Levin. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on August 20, 2014.

Phillis Levin

Phillis Levin is the author of May Day (Penguin, 2008). She teaches at Hofstra University and lives in New York, New York.

by this poet

poem
I've decided to waste my life again,
Like I used to: get drunk on
The light in the leaves, find a wall
Against which something can happen,

Whatever may have happened
Long ago—let a bullet hole echoing
The will of an executioner, a crevice
In which a love note was hidden,

Be a cell where a struggling tendril
poem
Of something, separate, not 
Whole; a role, something to play 
While one is separate or parting; 

Also a piece, a section, as in
Part of me is here, part of me 
Is missing; an essential portion,

Something falling to someone 
In division; a particular voice 
Or instrument (also the score

For it), or line of