Thursday, May 11, 2017

A poem for Grandpa Smith

My grandfather died when I was a boy. He was an avowed atheist, and not very emotional.  I have very few memories of the man. One was riding on the back of a tractor with him one of the few times my grandparents watched me when I was a child. Another was thinking how strong he was. He was a big, powerful man, like his son, my Uncle Burt, who is also now deceased. I'm a pretty big guy too. But I'm not as big as my grandpa or uncle were.

My mother tells how when Grandpa found out he had cancer, he had such a helpless look on his face. She said this look of helplessness was because he didn't believe in God. I don't know. No one, believer or no, could be expected to take a death sentence with ease and grace.

When I think of Grandma Smith, I think of cats, her knitting, her loom, and how, in the last days of her life, she carried on vivid conversations with family and friends, many of them already dead, as I listened in the summer sunshine in another room. But this poem I wrote about my grandfather recalls a few of the objects that remind me of him.

My grandpa

smoked cherry scented tobacco

in a Meerschaum pipe.

He sat in a recliner

by a window

looking out to a driveway

and a big green lawn.

He had a rubbing stone.

“I’ll work it through,” he said.

But  he died in ‘83.

I held the stone to my eye

To the sun

And saw its glow

Through a pearly haze.

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