My Grandfather’s Garage, 1966; Heart Box by Lynda Fleet Perry

My Grandfather’s Garage, 1966


Steel licenses, galvanized,
nailed to the wall, black Virginia
plates, rusted and dented,

years spanning a life
on this farm, his World War,
to the second, his sons’,

our fathers’. Children, we kneel before
sagging cardboard on the oil-soaked
dirt, reeking still of machines.

Brittle pages crumbling
as we rifle Field & Stream, National
. Silverfish scuttle.

Dust rises in dimness. We peer
into a fading Popular Science
over and over, breathless and startled

cousins whispering, sunburned
noses turning up and freckled
like our fair-haired fathers’. Rapt,

as if I watch the crude
of lynching postcards.

Nagasaki children:
eyes of the nameless
girl with a hole for a nose—

filtering through the silvered
planks behind us, a cold light—
close-up the view

of what was once an ear,
melded to the head of a boy
in the transmogrifying blaze.


Heart Box


Bone clouds lit by whiteness, silver’s
metallic glint, crossing over. Powder
now, my father—gilding jonquils abloom
at his family’s old place; shelved in a mausoleum
over rapids where the one-legged heron
perches on granite; stashed in a blue heart-
shaped box, lidded, with the lock of his hair
and ivory-colored shards I gathered the day
we scattered the dust of his molecules, flickering
now in the black birth-waters he learned to fish,
and teach me, where hollow thrums
of bullfrogs echo, the reedy trill of red-wings—
Swamped in the pond’s dank vapors, I open
the heart box, breathe his acrid, deathbed scent.
I close it, and one hair wires out— silver, wild, insistent.

Lynda Fleet Perry
Lynda Fleet Perry is the author of a chapbook of poems, At Winter Light Farm, published by Finishing Line Press in 2011. Her work has been published in Blackbird, Defunct, qarrtsiluni, New Zoo Poetry Review, and other journals. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, and works as a writer, editor, and communications consultant.

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