A man in three memories (Happy Birthday Grandpappy)

george skal
wandering town’s street at dawn i saw stone upon stone
mortarred together into quiet wall standing straight and proud
like the wall he built, hand over hand,
we sat there, little sister and i,
in warm summer sun
spitting cherry pits until stomachs ached with laughter and sweet fruit
stained our lips, hands, chins
clean laundry and apple trees dancing in the wind
chatting with gardener at mid-day i saw green upon green
woven together into abundance and life
even as he wove,
and waving tennis racket on broom handle to rid cauliflower of moth,
taught that life could be coaxed, with patience and time
sitting on plaid blanket at dusk, i glimpse me-child waiting in another time, another place.
musty station wagon, woolen plaid on seats
little fingers snitching scotch mints from glove box while old man hands gather apple wood to stoke hearth’s fire,
fourteen years now since he died,
i making sandwiches for strangers on a wednesday afternoon
we sat beneath his apple trees to say goodbye.

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