Hitler didn't need to make the trains run on time.
While he wrote Mein Kampf in prison, my grandfather embarked for the New World.
At the station he shook hands with his father who had supported the Kaiser
In the war just ended.
The train arrived exactly on schedule.
Its spare dignity oddly preserved amidst the humiliation of the crumbling republic.
He settled into the compartment of that early train
In America he conducted his life like clockwork
Rising each morning in the dark to the smell of coffee boiling
In the kitchen at the back of the long narrow apartment in the Bronx
With the window over the fire escape and the clothesline stretched across the courtyard.
My grandparent's visits to us were always short.
They would arrive on time.
If he said he'd be there at noon, 11:59 a.m found the brown Plymouth
Lumbering up the driveway.
We would bring him the items for the tikkun.
A radio, a doll's plastic boot, which had split, a toaster.
When the repairs were done, he would turn to my grandmother,
"Ok, now we go.”
Even leisure was allotted a certain place.
The completion of the New York Times crossword
Carefully tattooed each day
In blue-black ink.
Three score and ten are a man's years, four score if granted the vigor.
My grandfather lived 96 years according to a timetable in his mind
And in his heart a faint shadow of those who boarded that later train