Gulags

I

He left home suddenly,
Just ahead of the police,
Or the army, whosever day it was
To reach out and torment him.

He left home,
Unread book left open on the couch,
Dishes left unwashed,
Door still open
As if astonished at the turn of events.

He left home
Just ahead of his brother,
Who, running late
Arrived just after the police.

Years later, thinking
Of the gulag,
Thinking of his brother,
He wept, alone,
Longing for the comfort of prison.

II

In the distance,
I see him coming, the stride
Unmistakable, the smile forgiving,
Even at that distance

He carries the ghosts of my ancestors,
The last of a generation
A link to a past unbidden
And yet desperately sought.

We meet in the middle of the bridge
And embrace
“A hundred grams?” he says,
His eyes, guarded but hopeful.

“You’ll buy me a vodka?”

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