There is a picture at my parents’ house. It’s on a sheet of while bristol board with a bunch of other pictures. The collage was made for my Grandpa’s 90th birthday party three years ago and never got dismantled. The picture would be… about 20 years old now. It was taken in late summer. The front lawn of my parents’ house is dry and yellow. My Grandpa is sitting on our ATC (the three-wheeler kind that were made illegal a few years later), and my Grandma is on it behind him. She has her arms around his neck and they’re both grinning. Those are my grandparents. This evening, I could almost hear my Grandma giving Gramps some serious what-for. She always called him an old fuddle-duddle. And he made her wait 15 years for them to be together again. Goodbye, Art. May every tub of ice cream in heaven have a spoon already in it waiting for you. 🙂

Gather ’round.
Gather ’round.
This ritual of assembly
as small as a single pastel room
as great as all humanity.

Gather ’round.
Gather ’round.
This brittle husk
bullied by persistent air
like the wasted grass and leafless branches
blasted by snow
and framed in the window.

Gather ’round.
Gather ’round.
The ceaseless hum
of human effort.
Revelations that the only one
who can’t speak
already knew all the answers.

Gather ’round.
Gather ’round.
Metallic tang of old coffee.
Hymns in my head
to which I can’t remember all the words.
And a worsening rasp and rattle
choking everyone.

Gather ’round.
Gather ’round.
Men of medicine and men of God,
battling finality with words
of different shapes.
And well-meaning women
bearing spring flowers,
whose unknowing comments
prove I belong here.

Gather ’round.
Gather ’round.
Passing hours sculpt masks of tired faces.
Glass eyes and salt water
matting eyelashes and stiffening expressions.
Sleep a little. Everyone.

Gather ’round.
Gather ’round.
Beneath the low roof
of waiting, and things
to be done.
Soon. By us grown-ups.

Gather ’round.
Gather ’round.
With day-old newspapers,
an empty box of tissues,
hymns sung with missing harmonies,
stories and whispers,
and tears divided
between a roll of toilet paper
and a blue blanket
prayed over
by one family.

1Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Tuesday, April 4th, 2006. 7:55pm.

  1. […] family might make. We like to look on the bright side after all. However, I mentioned it because this occurrence is not without precedent. (Though I will note I’m now out of […]

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