Bridges have fallen from less.
And boats bicycles train tracks the buckle
on our suitcase the grinder gears beneath
my grandfather’s left hand.
I want to know more
about your past, I said to him
over dessert. Yeah? Me too. He looked away and picked
at something stuck between his teeth, used
the pointer finger on the hand that still has one.
It must have smelled of iron then, the gap
between his thumb and pinky where
the blade churned bone where oxygen and water ran
nine stiches maybe ten a bridge between the palm and dorsal
skin never meant to meet the other side of skin.
He’s never told me how it happened.
I don’t know how to ask.
He hasn’t starved in decades, but that’s all he wants
to tell me. Hunger birds searching for bread
boys searching for birds searching for bread
onions in oil brined fish a potato, maybe certainly, always
potatoes no yeast no fruit an onion
serves as both and bridges have fallen without it
and no one lifted a finger or noticed.
He likes to retell the first time
he thought he saw a mandarin.
Its porous ocher shell giving way
under the pressure of his touch,
the orb so big and singing, he could barely wrap it
in all ten fingers. It was like holding
the sun. He said and cupped the air.
I don’t ask when he could last interlace
the fingers on both hands and pray
for citrus. But maybe our sun really is
surrounded by a solid iron surface.
As grandfather bit down into the rind,
he must have tasted solar flares
until he heard somebody laugh.
The lemon’s oil turned acid rust
against his tongue, left only iron, the last
refusing to collapse when a star dies.