Previously published in Number One, Gallatin, Tennessee, Volunteer State Community College
When the grandpa I never knew abandoned you and all his family,
your mother parted ways with reality,
ended her days in the loving arms of madness.
At the orphanage you held your sister’s hand
when she wouldn’t stop crying.
You eased her nightly tears until sleep came.
When you discovered she was gone, you had to ask where.
Oh, “She was adopted,” was the caretaker’s offhand reply,
Perhaps they thought goodbyes would make things worse.
You were a hard man forged by hard times, and silent.
Sometimes you were as silent as your missing sister.
I remember visiting mom’s youngest sister.
My cousins took turns riding their horse.
I took a turn and couldn’t stay on.
You made that old nag trot like a thoroughbred.
Everyone said, “that man can really sit a horse”.
In your senile years you liked to go for Sunday drives.
Every time you spied horses you pleaded with me to
get you a job there. “I could still work horses,” your said.
Once you leaned against a rail and whinnied like a horse.
They trotted to you as if coming to one of their own,
like mares to a stallion.