Personal :: Poetry

Vacation in Florida

On the way to my first sight
Of my new baby brother,
Grandpa stopped off first
For a root beer with me.
He watched while I hammered
Crooked crates out of scraps,
And I thought his skin,
Dark from medication,
was brown from the
Chocolate milk he always
Drank with lunch.
He was my opponent
My first game of pinochle-
He pushed my bid to a hundred,
Only to laugh when I carefully
Laid out a hundred aces,
And grinned proudly.
I watched over the white counter
As he solemnly made oyster crackers,
Helped him as he
Resolutely pulled every last dandelion
From his pristine lawn,
Breath wheezing in his lungs.
I watched him eat fresh cherry tomatoes
From the back garden
And drink water from the owl shaped glass
To down his pills.

I watched him come home from the doctorís
And go out back to the woodshed
To make the wooden toys,
Shaped like a helix of DNA,
That hung from the eaves of the roof
And spun in the wind.
Mom and Dad talked
In hushed, concerned tones
When they thought I wasnít watching,
And dandelions sprouted
Around the chocolate brown house
Like freckles, and the cherry tomatoes
Were left untended.
I watched the family gather that Sunday
From the four corners of the country
For our summer Christmas party,
And we played pinochle
While he rambled and ranted,
Yelled at Dad, and sang old
Love songs to Grandma.
I watched him drag his oxygen tank
After him in annoyance,
On his way to the woodshed,
A useless appendage,
While we smiled at his strength
And thought six months was
An eternity, and far too short.
I watched Mom drive down
To the chocolate house
Every day, and limp back home again,
Bruised dark as night Under her eyes with fatigue.
That Wednesday evening
I watched him heave each breath,
A painful testament to his will,
And Grandma bent over him,
Drops of sadness falling on his sheets,
To whisper.
"Itís okay, Arnie. Iíll be fine.
You can go."
And he did.

I watched them sing
"How Great Thou Art".
Watched tears flow,
A healing spring rain,
And the family gathered again,
Which only yesterday scattered,
To say four days was even shorter
Than a few months,
And both better, and worse.
I watched the chocolate house
Peel and crack.
The old woodshed
Was emptied and flattened.
The dandelions choked all the grass,
And Grandma took off her ring
And bought a new purple car.
I watched her sell the house,
And get a new ring,
And my brother called him Grandpa,
And Mom forgave Grandma, even if she
Still called him John, never "Dad".
I watched them all let him go
But I still feel
That heís just on vacation in Florida.

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