Thursday, 28 December 2017

A History of My Grandfather

A History of My Grandfather

He farmed and ranched in the Great Plains
At the time of the Railway
I can never remember him without a Stetson
and his laced top boots
I remember the squeak in the step from the basement
And the bottle and the glass at the end of the table
He spoke short and to the point
and you had better listen
They woke me first, then my sister to shake his hand
for he knew he wasn't coming back
It was late in the fall, and it was a long country road to town
where he died in the back seat
It was a biting cold wind from the north, and the dirt was covered
My Grandmother was in a thin cotton dress
and someone said they were glad the service was short
My mother was grim and my father had a drink and wanted to talk
Once a life that I knew, now he only exists in my memory.

My Grandfather died 1961


I turned in and

saw the red combine 
in a field of yellow wheat straw
our old green grain truck was near by
Lloyd was sitting on the running board with a can of Players
rolling a cigarette.
As I got out 
Lloyd looked up and smiled
Mom called for help with her hands full of plates and silver ware, 
as I was trying to set up the card table 
and the folding chairs.
I looked over, saw Dad washing his face and neck 
with the cold water from the cream can.
The traffic was almost at a stand still, and I was over an hour from home,
but I still remember that red combine in a field of yellow wheat straw.

I was 16 and

I borrowed my Dad's red '65 Chevy hardtop
with a 327 four barrel Carter
She had raven hair and
skin like ice cream.
That '65 Chevy and that boy are long gone
and all the remains now, is a memory.
I helped my leg off the edge of the bed and
looked down onto the cracked lino floor, and
the squares from the edge of the bed to the wall
The ten by eight room is now my life.
Condensed, alone and afraid.
I straighten and put my best dress shirt on.
It's Sunday; I wait.
"Sorry I can't make it, something has just come up"
I still remember the girl with raven hair.
I put my arm around her as we left the movie theatre.
I felt alive.