A Portrait

by jdavidcharles

This is a re-write of an earlier poem of mine. Lurking somewhere in the original’s pretentious babble was a real poem about my grandfather trying ever so hard to get out. It got out.

A Portrait

“The clouds go in and out,” my grandfather told me, “I
thought I saw a seagull,” he said; but then again he also
told me he “kept his wallet next to his heart” as he pulled
it out from his back pocket—on the beach, sporting
a large brimmed hat, perfected contentedness or
undertone of nostalgia depending, the strong brow
of a man raised on the pressed white shirt, starched
and steamed, warm cereal for breakfast and in the cool
of the evening meatloaf and catsup. Taxis, ferries, and
flights from Lancaster, St. John, Miami, wheelchair
outings between, the start and stop, sitting and
rising of weak knees, the rhythm of it hard to convey
in verse, tapped out in step and gesture pulse
by pulse, internally, after years of surgery, and
that little pacemaker responsible for those long
slow waiting moments at each and every airport,
looking back through lines of metal detectors to see
him, barely standing, legs spread-eagled out,
dark and hurried hands running up and down,
“Upright, please—hands down—is this alright, sir?”
“Oh, that’s fine,” he would say as the hands moved
lower along his body, “as long as I can do you next.”
Quietly settled in a fold-away plastic chair, dressed
head to toe in egg-shell white, dozing off from layovers.

Advertisements