To my Grandfather
Tell me the story of your life,
The time you fell and scraped your knee
As a child, fell right off that shiny new blue
Bicycle, the first of its kind in your neighborhood.
Remind me how you carried logs with your father
When you were ten, and they burdened your boyish
Shoulders and made you sweat like the devil
Had wrapped his hellish slingshot-sun around you.
Chuckle when you recall how the dandelions danced
Alongside you in the grass, in that small hidden world
Behind the haystack where you and your brother smoked
Your fatherís stolen cigarettes, the evidence snuffed by Ohio
Speak softly, with watery blue eyes,
Of when you became a high school principal
And you gave that little boy a bar of soap,
Because he was too poor to buy any,
And how his eyes lit up when he smelled clean
For once in his small, dirty life.
Wince slightly when you poke yourself with
The needle. Youíve done it three times a day
For thirty years, but it doesnít make it any easier.
Your sugarís high again.
Now close your eyes, be brave, and recall the last time
You felt your legs before the doctors told you in not-so-few
Words you could no longer keep them. Yes, please
Remember this before you sit in your wheelchair, sigh,
And weep at what life has made of you.
If you have any thoughts on this poem, Caitlin Salomon
would be pleased to hear