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Cecilia Woloch

BPR 49 | 2022

—for my father

But who was he, really,
that boy in the cold dawn,
whistling his way to school?
Hands in his pockets, passing
slag heap and mine shaft,
shack after shack,
his breath before him, ghostly
in that veil of mist and soot.

What would the man
he would one day become
say to that boy but survive?
He must have been hungry all the time.
He must have been cold
and frightened, too,
of the hunger and the law,
his stepfather’s strap,
his drunken breath.

What would I say to that boy
but that there is another world
and someday you’ll enter it—
whistling, still,
not having forgotten the child
or his hunger, or his fear,
the door you slipped through
where there was no door,
someone standing there,
watching you go.