Grandad was a refugee from prejudice
emigrating to hope
arriving in the new land with the tools of his profession
wheelbarrow, pick and shovel.
No resettlement or orientation
a train to the wilderness
and then to work
extending the line beyond where he had been set down.
He never spoke of it
but the men with him bequeathed two facts
it was very hard work. And he a hard worker.
The adopted country brought modest prosperity.
Only if his children and grandchildren
didn’t earn wages of sweat
education the key he said.
In the new century
a grandson is elevated to the bench
a judge descended from a man
who departed a country sanctioning persecution.
Swearing in is to take place in the city I live
a dark time
at the point my cousin’s ambitions are awarded
mine plunged to depths – lower than before. Or since
the large family contingent unfaceable.
When in doubt, a famous attorney advised
difficult with seven voicemail invitations
and my parents booked to fly in.
I went to his office
and spoke the truth
confessing failure in the presence of new, old success.
It wasn’t easy
He was my mother’s godson and favourite
I told her of visit and my planned absence
“ he’d have been kind and understanding,” she said
“ making it easy for you
he’s good like that.”
“He was,” I assured her.
I was someone with a problem – not his
a pain in the butt
I left feeling very small.
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