Like a Word That Somersaults Through the Air
for Abe Osheroff, 1915-2008
His life begins with the rain, and the soggy cushions
of a couch left by the landlord to die on a Brooklyn sidewalk
in the year 1930. His life begins at age fifteen, Abe
the high school wrestler straining the cords in his neck
to lift the couch with the other boys back through the doorway
of a tenement in Brownsville. His life begins with a woman
who could not pay the rent, staring dumbstruck on the corner
at the miracle of eviction evicted, the landlord a lord no more,
her sons and daughters trailing in a procession after the sofa.
His life begins with the cop who arrives on the corner
waving a revolver, the gun Abe snatches away to toss
across the pavement, squinting into the face of his first arrest.
His life begins with a cop’s revolver bouncing off the asphalt,
like a word that somersaults through the air and cannot be unsaid.
From The Trouble Ball