Xander Gershberg

Grandpa David Told Me Once of Carpathia, a Place He had Never Been
February 25, 2024 Gershberg Xander

Grandpa David Told Me Once of Carpathia, a Place He had Never Been


His hospital topped
a mountain, so we ran
the rest.


The radiation of the cold triggered
his pulse monitor. He popped
out of the covers beaming


as a toddler.
Safta too appeared,
wearing death for him


in the new wrinkles
and grayed hair.
He covered her


in the blanket,
rose on bent feet.
We went to the ice


cliff in red
blankets—he fell
looking at sky.


I wondered if this
would be death
or the next moment


or the next. I helped him
and his new hunchback


and David gaped
at the forgotten.
The mountain and frozen


waterfall and close
bursting stars combined
into blues—without blinking


he laughed.
I’d be happy to die
. I hoped he would


despite the lonely
indigo of the Yukon
and Ukraine sky.


David stumbled into snowdust,
a greyhound chasing mouse,
also snow.


I ran too. The hunchback leaned
into working muscle. We ran through
narrow shtetls


where the snow dissolved
into wind. Dad, there, on the cliff,
arms bare.


David pounced, joined
the mouse sideways into
flat air.


Safta and Dad and I,
and everyone we could remember,


to await the telling
of a folk tale.

Xander Gershberg (he/him) is a poet, editor, and educator. His poetry is found or forthcoming at FENCE, The Journal, Plume, TAB Journal, Inverted Syntax, Great River Review, Poetry Online, and elsewhere. He serves as a poetry editor for MAYDAY and on Spout Press’s editorial collective.