by Michael Tveter

              As his ship rocked back
              and forth, back and forth, my
              grandfather wrote love

              letters to my grandmother. In
              a dusty cabin, clogged with
              sailors, his pen wagged over

              blank pages as he dreamt about
              returning to Norway and his
              dark-haired beauty. Those letters were

              the only reasons he
              returned to the farm where he saw
              soldiers torn apart during the

              war, saw his classmates mock the only
              boy with a German father, and his
              drunken father wield his

              fists. Had it not been for those
              letters, he would never dream
              of settling down on the farm, start

              a life with four children, and
              see his own drunken fists buried in
             my Mom’s memories as she

             rode the train across Europe with
             my Dad – rocking back and forth, back
             and forth. Dad’s whispered promises of

             children as he looked into
             eyes that had seen the loss of
             a firstborn. Behind locked cabin

             doors, those eyes met, closer
             than ever before. Seven
             months later, my fists growing

             in her womb, Dad’s gentle
             touch turned to drunken fists, and
             resurrected memories buried in

             a shallow grave.
             Those same drunken fists carried
             me, embraced me, and rocked

             me back and forth, back and forth, while
             telling fables of my bloodline; from
             father to son, memories of battles

             won, farmland worked, and trophies
             engraved with our family name –

             my name.