a journal of fantastical poetry

About Building

by Sonya Taaffe

Sometimes my grandfather looks like Steve Rogers,
a stick-skinny kid from Brooklyn
whose body barred him from the war
his heart was fretting to fight.
No refugee scientist
gifted him with 1-A eyesight
and fists stronger than a flyweight's—
blind as Kipling's Jack without his glasses,
he finished his dissertation
inside the hot steel hum of the mill room,
did not break his fingers in the rollers
while names burned in Europe
only an Ellis Island spelling from his own.
My grandmother without an SOE accent
watched children in Erikson's nursery,
never chased spies
through docklands or winter forests,
broke codes, riveted B-17s,
or waited for a man
who only came back
long after his world had disappeared.
I cannot find their story in splash pages
or Hollywood's memory,
the generation of vintage color
smiling into victory
as timelessly heroic as capes, masks, shields.
My mother
with her Mediterranean darkness
was no one's war work,

December 15th, 2016

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