by Galina Itskovich
Coming of Age
But if you must go
to avoid self-induced death
by suffocation, boredom or something else;
to see the newborn panda in its home
or undertake some other chock full of adrenaline venture; to hit the road
before the holiday traffic;
to have your son live longer than your father;
to escape the tenderness of another birthday;
to let the morbidity brew without you, not within;
to tend to your Hep. C-d or H.piloried innards;
to escape the clock’s leaking sounds-
don’t hesitate. Go now.
Escape the crazy plight of Michelangelos
chiseling away the outer kids
to uncover the inner soldiers.
You’ve crossed over to the other side of age,
stepped over something fragile yet still clinging to your feet
like the foliage,
Free yourself from the embrace of time;
bring some rouge to your cheeks with the homemade remedy of pinches.
You remember where the door used to be
in the place that you should’ve liked better,
in that place you once called yours.
Herr Dorfner’s shift is yet to start. He,
in the window seat, performs his daily sway –
through the beads
strung together by rails,
with the predictable spikes of kirche.
Four generations of Dorfners,
he proudly states,
worked for the state.
The Staat. The Reich.
He’s up by 4:00-ouch,-
out the door
by five-thirty. None of his elders
would be ashamed
of his ardor. To date, he was never late.
Shift’s a shift.
The bluishness of his uniform
beats the color of the morning sky.
His family’s uniforms usually do
beat the sky.
Uniforms don’t go out of style-
uniforms make the country.
He’s certain of that.
If he is to sway,
it’s not to the left.
If he is to embarrass himself and sleep
on a train, he sleeps on
his right side,
always facing the direction of a road
He gets off at Freising.
Two Dorfners ago,
Grandpa used to get off at Dachau
at this very time.
Shift’s a shift.
Dorfner is ready to clean.
It’s upsetting, though,
that his Grandpa
had cleaned so much out
but the country was neither satisfied
of his work record.
As the limits of tolerance are pushed,
it doesn’t get cleaner.
In fact, Dorfner’s been punished
by cleaning the new stuff,
by closing the demographic
and generational gap:
doner and Subway wrappers,
condoms and needles
off the floor of the airport bathrooms.
05/0 8/ 2012