Virtues of Scrap, #63

Long in the tooth, some would say
ignorant or simply blind,
eyes gouged out by choice, never
once would Pa admit a lack
of knowing. Kind, some would say,
to the point he’d give away
the bits of food, the toys
handed to him at Christmas,
gifts received on his birthday.

Senile, a word used behind
his back to suggest a lack
of knowledge of the design
of the world, as if, all his
memory had been wiped clean
and what was left was a small
and unknowing infant, but
those around could not have been
less wrong, or Pa more aware.

“Trinkets!” Pa would shout, and “Shit!”
(when giving away finely
prepared meals). Pa would stand
from his table, and no one
knew when, simply lift his plate
and exit the restaurant,
walk with a still steaming steak,
smothered in peppers, mushrooms,
onions, a beer in his hand.

Pa would walk the block, and on
to the next, continue till
he came to a man awake
in the streets (Pa would pass those
asleep). There was no hoopla,
no discussion or gestures.
Pa would simply put the plate
down and walk away, come back
to the restaurant and pay.

We called him grandpa, would ask,
“Grandpa, why do you give things
we give you away.” He’d say,
“Poppycock.” or “Rubbish. Why
I’d never give anything
from you, my heart, my children,
away.” And if you bothered
to ask more, Pa would doze off
to sleep (though not quite sleeping).”

On this soil, on this earth,
on this ground, on this day. We,
those lucky enough to meet
you in passing, to receive
those many gifts, those gentle
smiles, to be left to sleep
while you passed, to be silenced
when we asked such dumb questions,
come to finally understand.

I shall keep your watch, with it
tell a perfect time, and I
shall keep your ties, wide grinning
and wild colors, and I
shall keep your shoes, hear them
walk down the pavement, and I
shall keep nothing, dedicate
my life to remembering,
give my prejudice away.

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A day is not done, until it's filled with words.

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