The village of my grandfather
still stands amid the fields
adobe walls stained
by soot from the fireplace
birds nesting in the summer
warmed chimney singing.
The ancient scythe leans
against the wall, its blade
embedded in the crusted soil
as the old tractor idles in the field.
Armies have trod this ground
ignoring the small house
smoke curling from its roof
stew bubbling in the iron pot,
for the city hills away,
its brick walls beckoning
the spoils of war hanging
in its galleries and vaults.
My grandfather lies
in the parched soil
roots of plants wrapped
around his fingers.
First appeared in Alchemy Online Literary Magazine 2000/2 Fall-Winter and later in Legal Studies Forum Vol. 32, No. 1 (2008)
He is never certain what to do on days
like this one, when the winter takes
a particularly nasty turn, the temperature
hovers at utter emptiness, and the wind
elects to try to enfold everything it can reach
in a coat of frost, that bleaches life away.
He walks each day, through the nearby park
if the weather is the least bit cooperative,
through the neighborhood when not, where
at least he can take a small shelter from the wind
in the shadow of houses closed up tightly,
life walled away within, smarter, he imagines
than he is, his fingers ill-gloved, slowly losing
all feeling, but this is his practice, something
he does because it requires doing, heeding
an edict from an unspoken voice. And later
emerging from a hot shower, feeling limbs
restored, he glances at the weather in hopes
the next day will be kinder, and slow in coming.