(October 30,1961 / Farrell, Pennsylvania)

An Interview With The Oldest Man In Europe

Amid the leaves of this his final Fall
his eyes reflect the blue unminding heavens,
but tell me nothing of the girl he wed
while serving in the Tsar's Imperial Guard,

tell me nothing of the six sons she bore
during the Great War and Revolution,
and nothing of the hellish years he spent,
a prisoner-slave in Kolyma's mines.

Like Midas, all he touches turns to gold—
the leaves are fallen sons and memories,
the numbers on his wrist his gilded name.

He is too close to death to answer questions.
Three died for Hitler, and three died for Stalin.
And he was cursed to have survived them all.

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