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Eulogy for My Grandfather
The evening tastes like your skin,
Puckered and wrinkled between my teeth
My lips so often shrank from your touch –
They feared the memory of what they will someday
Be. But sometimes, I recall,
You felt so full and swelled with love,
I’d swear you might float away.
The moon overhead bears your face tonight,
And it smiles;
It knows my regret
And bathes me in reflected forgiveness.
With every sunset,
I remember your chemical lovers –
The compounds that spilled color
Across your forgetting mind.
In the perceived dullness of your days,
You flamed bright orange against age,
Burning lower, but no less strong.
I feel the warmth across my cheeks,
The comforting embrace of your energy.
Somewhere deep between my ribs,
My ashes remember your fire.
Your world fit together in perfect equations,
Balanced like a tight-rope-walker
On invisible strands of belief
That someday, somehow,
All that was wrong would right itself.
Who would have the heart to tell you
That the leaning tower of Pisa
Falls a little more each year?
I remember a cat you loved once
Or rather I remember the love –
The way it tweaked your long eyebrows
Up your forehead, spread short lashes
In a mashed potato smile,
That I couldn’t desire to resist.
And in some hollow behind your eyes,
I saw the hole that flickered with flames,
Broken glass, German cries,
The hole we all believed you could never fill.
But it was us all along, who
Were too afraid to try.
(If I pressed my ear against the hole,
I think I’d hear it purr.)
The alchemy of your love hangs
Behind glass now,
Pendulum slowly swinging in time
To the turning of the earth.
I think it was enough to touch it once,
Hold it as the power gently faded,
Till the heartbeat evaporated into my palm.
Now out of reach,
Your soul’s diorama hangs calmly on my desk –
I swear I’ll keep it safe
And free of dust.
Deep below my feet, you call to the worms
In your silver voice, beckon them –
You want to introduce yourself,
Tell them a story,
Brag to them about your grandchildren.
When you’re finished, you’ll send them away,
With an appointment to come back
Did you wear down slowly,
Like the Little Engine That Couldn’t,
Slowly sputtering its way through miles of desert
Until it spattered out?
Or did you dry up quickly
As the rainstorm puddle splashed
By one too many careless children?
Perhaps you simply ceased to trouble
Over every which and when and
Why the stars appear to twinkle
Like children’s smiles overhead.
I think you finally outgrew the evening –
Who can blame you for that?