Forgotten Cities – a poem

Picnics of plastic wrapped watermelon

And smoked turkey sandwiches

between wheat bread on blue paper plates.

Creamy goat cheese spread on toasted cheddar pita chips

with smashed raspberries on top.

Snacking on sweet summer strawberries.

I eat them until all but the green leaves are left

with a little bit of juicy red hanging on

I give them to you

and you pop them in your mouth

saying no part should go wasted.

I can’t believe you eat the leaves so I laugh.

We listen to Beethoven and Chopin playing on Youtube

on my iPhone

– the songs of my childhood

and I’m reminded of the play I was going to write

about my mother and father meeting in Russia.

I recount the story to you

of how they met in music school in Russia

and how my father knows many languages –

I’m struck by the sadness of how similar my father and I are.

Both with an interest in language and culture and travel and music

I wish we had a better relationship

because there’s so much I could learn from him.

I want him to teach me how to read music.

I want him to teach me Russian.

When I was a child I was homeschooled

and so thirsty for knowledge

so my mom arranged weekly history lessons with my father.

I would go over to his house –

his one bedroom apartment

and he would tell me about Mesopotamia and Babylon

and I would dream of cities made from trees and ancient ruins

while he made his classic beef stew on the crock pot. 

 

This was the only time I remember spending alone time with him. 

Those lessons didn’t last long.

Eventually he got busy and I forgot all the facts he told me

about Mesopotamia and Babylon

and lost myself in fantasy books

of flying carpets and red-faced ninns

and remembralls and three-headed dogs. 

 

But I remember it so clearly now.

There are so many other things I want to ask him.

To learn from him.

 

He’s just a phone call away and yet I can’t do it.

There is too much distance between us.

Too many languages we don’t speak.

Too many things we can’t understand and

too many things we don’t have the words to say.

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