Song From the Deep Middle Brain

When everything around me tremors
why should I be still?

Emerging from my left
side came this palsy,

my arm transformed
into frangible branch of cold leaves

wavering, made slow, heavy
by invisible wind or ice.

I closed my eyes and it was still
there in morning’s bracelet

light that slid down my arm,
down to my fingers,

as though many synapses
spoke only gibberish to one another,

unaware they were no longer
transmitting but sinking fast as sound

slips from ocean shelf to slope,
to rise, then irretrievably from the plain.

My father’s hands shook, Anya said,
as she manipulated my body

through warm water.
She held me up and her fingers

caressed each vertebra,
and I bobbed as if atop a wave,

a pale, scarred fish.
When I was a little girl in Poland,

she began her story,
we had to cross a border                                                                                
and there were men demanding our papers.
My father could not open them                                          

because his hands shook,
and his papers fell like the pappus

of dandelions onto a frozen ground.
Why are you shaking they asked him,

searching his face
for lines that might transmogrify.

I am a child of war, he told them.
At this, they laughed and laughed,

but let us pass.
Why did they laugh, I asked.

Anya shrugged and said:
You see, many things can cause a tremor.

And I stretched under her
steady healing hands

as they coaxed my limbs
through a dark pain.

She knew of places in my heart
where I would eventually come to rest,

once I had learned
what children of war learn:

how the body submits
to absolution
so it might again