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
Wildlife. 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.
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.
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.
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