A Cry in the Dim Part of the Hall
of light, radiating through
the bay-window shades. His neck
bends stiffly for its old sleep
like a fruit tree with too much
Let us not wake him. I will
tell you how he came to rest
in this quiet warmth.
a bullet youth with wired bones
in 1918; carried
Black Jack's messages between
the Huns and only lost an eye,
bouncing from his spirited
motor bike. (First leaf dying
from an elm in waning sunlight
could not descend "as softly.")
Back at home, the world half dark,
the sweetness of life's flower
oozed from Gus. He took his shots
at tenpins while his daughters
cried in the dim part of the hall.
He boozed, he danced, and he bled
with blisters on his feet. ("Eat
the sun," Gus always bantered.
He did, and the gobs of fire
burned his bulbous stomach raw.)
No spring or fall touched proud Gus.
His girls could not sprint as fast,
slug as hard; and nobody
could expect them to. (Gus bounced
"like a rubber plant" and “sapped
into a bucket.”)
another brief look at him.
The next war made young mothers
of his girls. The little boys
brought him beer in big tin pails
as he watched Friday night's fights,
the bay-windows open for
humid summer air. (Gus called
the bouts "essential to my
strength." The family blossomed gay
at the new corner tavern.)
Now, the great-grand kids play at
war in the rusted helmets
Gus brought home. Occasionally
he does not know their names, and
they do not remember his.
He cannot see beyond these
seventies that peel like
sycamore upon his hands.
(Gus says his "summers are not
long enough," and sparkling birds
will never "grace my limbs.")
Gus yields to hear the sunlight
thinning in the shade, and sleeps
to dream that all boys scramble.