Thursday, December 23, 2004


by Zinta Aistars

For the house on the Baltic Sea in the tiny village of Sarnate, Latvia, where generations of my family have been born, loved, have given birth to new generations, have died, but live on in the blood of generations to come.

Published in the October 2003 issue of Poetry Life & Times.

Seven generations accounted for,
the tiny house hunches its stone shoulders
against the cool salted winds of the Baltic,
windows watching with tested patience
the swoop of gulls, the occasional tern,
the passing frame of a familiar figure, glimpsed,
then gone again, like the years,
the generations themselves, of women
watching from those windows,
shutters thrown open, curtains flaring,
their eyes focused on the blue horizon
disappearing in mist, or perhaps tears.
Even as they work, even as they cook their meals,
peeling potatoes, coring green apples,
kneading the soft dough of bread,
even as they nurse their babes to breasts
too long untouched by a man’s callused palm,
they watch – for the return of their mates,
always lured from their honeyed embrace
to that other unknown, to that misted horizon,
to those chests of uncounted gold,
to those women of untasted flesh, fruits
ripened by tropical suns, and the lure
of unfought battles testing muscle and grit
and flaming bravado baptized
by the burn of absinthe and mead,
the madness of dreams that can never be bought.
The house waits. The watchers at the windows
change with each generation, weathered
by the same sea, the same sun, the same salty breeze.
The women walk the white sand of the Baltic,
skirts flaring with the wind, hair tousled and sun bleached,
faces bronzed and eyes lined with the fine
imprint of gazing long against the sun. They bend
to finger each nugget of clouded stone,
rubbing the pad of a knowing thumb
across its wave worn surface, the resin
warming to their touch as they hold it up
to the amber light that will identify
its jeweled and enduring past.
They wear amber necklaces, beads
of amber molded to their fingers,
thick knuckled and gnarled like roots,
knotted amber eyes, clear as sunlight,
golden as honey, dangling from the lobes of their ears,
from wrists, clasped against white linen blouses,
evidence of that which survives
seven upon seven generations, and seven more:
the years of waiting and knowing
the horizon is but a line of dreams,
hopes that palpate the human heart,
the siren call that drives a good man to wander
but a woman to wait, in the wisdom
of seven upon seven generations
to know the virtue of a passing madness
always returns to a horizon seen from the sea,
blue with promise of a tiny house
with stone shoulders hunched against the winds,
and windows framing a face turned towards the sea.

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