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He shaped them out of balsa wood,
one model plane after another,
a boy during Word War II.
With sharp blade in his small hand
he carved the curves for what
could hover over his bed at night,
until a whole fleet of planes
hung from the ceiling, breezes
through the window rustling
them into a dry rattle.

Years later he builds dollhouses,
cuts each shingle for the roof,
then glues the layers to shelter
the children in their miniature beds,
his hands trembling now.
He stocks the kitchen with bread
and apples, buys tiny lamps, connects
the wires. Lets them burn all night.

Wings for our history of flight
and cover, the armies and the refusals,
houses in flame. In our central hallway
he hangs an icon of Saint George and the Dragon,
and a large portrait of my father’s family,
the ones we lost in war and famine,
my grandfather sitting tall in the center,
his long arms around the baby.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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