Out on the porch, out facing the shapeless
he rose from the room he'd grown up in, cluttered
bodily, and good on their promises.
in his mind. At the hospital, he'd found her
and at that moment knew she would die
"Inheritance" and "Grandma Ascending the Stair" are part of a cycle of poems that attempt to reconstruct the Brooklyn brownstone at 290 Hicks Street where my Lebanese grandparents and their extended families lived for nearly all of the 20th century. The loss of the house in the 1990s seemed to me the objective correlative of the loss of an immigrant generationtheir stories and their silences, their impossible unconditional love and their feuds, their utterly unique personalities, and their constantly confounded desire to be close to one another, often living if not in the same house then certainly on the same block. I have been attracted to the religious practice of venerating one's ancestors, a practice that makes both biological and spiritual sense. I hope that these elegies comprise, if not the foundation, then at least the architectural plan for the spirit house of the dead.