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  • Castaway, and: My Grandfather's Final Day in the Old Country, 1892
  • Floyd Skloot (bio)


Long Beach, New York, 1957

I told myself that rescue could come soon.The island was not far from shipping lanesand at all hours of the day I saw planesoverhead. I would be found in late June

when the weather was warmer, or in fallbecause people always want one more longjourney before winter. There was a songI made up to sing at night that named all

the secret places that were left behind.My parents would explain why we had movedhere from the city but that only provedwhat I suspected: they had lost their minds. [End Page 111]

It was up to me to save us. The duneswould swell and shrink with the seasons, the tiderise and fall. At the beach, time could not hide.I told myself that rescue would come soon.

My Grandfather's Final Day in the Old Country, 1892

Last night soldiers on horseback circledthe house of worship. He saw the blazingroof cave in, heard screams, felt heat curlaround his body, but thought it all a crazydream. Would God let His own house be consumedin fire? Now charred wood and ash coat the mud,the lungs, lingering in air near the ruinedsynagogue. Glass shards catch the morning sun.God allows the holy ark to burn? At twelvehe already knows what the Rabbi would sayto that, if the Rabbi were still alive:Evidently, my child. This is the dayhe should be walking his brother to schoolfor the first time, but the school is cinderand thin spirals of smoke. If it were true,as the Rabbi taught, that God's fire borethe light from which the universe was formed,could it be that fire was not such a bad thing?What is God saying when He brings harmto bear upon people gathered to singHis praises, and then lets the very placewhere they sing dissolve in flame? He has seenwhat he came to see, so he turns to face [End Page 112] the river one last time, closes his eyes, breathesin the unfamiliar air, and tries to prayfor the journey that begins today.

Floyd Skloot

Floyd Skloot's newest books are the poetry collection The Snow's Music (LSU P), the memoir The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of a Writer's Life (U of Nebraska P), and the short story collection Cream of Kohlrabi (Tupelo P). His seventh collection of poems, Close Reading (Tupelo P), is forthcoming.



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pp. 111-113
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