Your skinny, crooked legs
scraped dapples mountains
like your father scraped his anthracite;
just another Slovak in the hole.
Nine more kids at home,
John L. Lewis and the troopers in the streets,
Spanish influenza's bodies carted to the edge of town.
You sat by windows Christmas Eve,
a bag of walnuts, cookies,
horehound candies and a single orange,
the only one all year.
one in every stocking by the tree,
I tell the kids your story,
but they rather I'd just fetch another gift,
unmoved by this covenant,
though they warm beside the vigor of its fire,
grow straight within the burning of its light.