Monday, February 7, 2011

One Died Today

I had three grandfathers.
Two of them already died
Some years ago the one

On my father’s side,
Canadian, a rock, warm as a hug,
Whom I loved like a father

And the two on my mother’s side—
The one you never mentioned
To avoid the chill

At the kitchen table
Or at Thanksgiving dinner
Or Easter dinner the one

With the glass eye
And the weakness for women
And a daily carafe of Chianti

The kind of painter’s talent
You can’t buy, to die for
Who slept on your childhood

Couch and appeared sometimes
Seven in the morning
On the bus you took to school

So drunk you shrunk
Behind the girl with the big hair
In the seat in front of you

And the other one, the boxer
And punchdrunk bartender who
Filched the till and spent

All summer floating on his back
A few yards off a Dennisport
Beach, gorging on quahogs

Back at the cottage full of aunts
And uncles and cousins
And grandma running the show

The one who punched out
The eye of the painter grandfather
One drunk afternoon making

Sure you felt it when you went past
His lazy-boy in the living room
Right in that meaty part

That thigh muscle so vulnerable
To a quick left hook, or a pinch
Above the knee.  He died

Today.  I don’t know how I feel
With so much joy and pain
Mixed together.  He was 90, life

Enough for anyone.  He loved
My mother as if she were his daughter
And that should be enough for me.

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