|Jul/Aug 2016 Poetry|
Photographic Artwork by Victoria Mlady
Green Mountain Falls
In the picture, that's my old man (deceased)
standing beside his old man (deceased).
Green Mountain is behind them;
the falls rush overhead.
The little boy is holding his first .22.
My grandfather stands stiffly, elbow cocked,
like a vacationing farmer (which in fact he was).
The boy is maybe eight and wearing knickerbockers
gathered just below the knees.
Uniformed like a pint size Lou Gehrig,
he will have long forgotten them
by the time he rounds third base
and slides into the crematorium 85 years later.
But I have the picture to prove it.
Grandpa was a sober man, a Gideon
with a pocket full of gospel tracts.
You can't see them in the picture.
But they're there. Trust me.
If you couldn't love him, that was OK.
At least he'd save you. The same way God did
when his stiff arms wrapped around you.
When my daughter was four and playing
in the old boy's sprinkler,
he dried her off with paper towels.
Scrubbed her until the paper curled
and her skin turned red;
as red as the words of Jesus in his New Testament.
No sense in wasting a good bath towel on a four-year old.
And poor kid, she never forgot it. My dad was there too.
Though he looked away with the same queasy visage
of the boy in the picture. Not quite knowing
what to say or do. Probably wondering in the end
who would save her and what kind of economy
pinched life into such a small frame.
And what that picture would look like
sitting on the mantle
85 years down the road.