Following Memories

He taught me how to fish,
dig clams,
catch a snake right behind its head,
shoot a twenty-two.

For him I read Horatio Hornblower.

My favorite memory: Grandpa leading Senior Bible Class,
"You know damn (thump) well
it says right in this damn (thump) book..."
I looked around the table for shock
and found only people who'd known old George for years.

He claimed to have served a game warden
out-of-season venison
and made him believe it was steak.
I bless that warden whenever I think of him.

At eighty he chopped his own firewood.
We walked Fox Island for miles every summer morning.
He still sold real estate; he still sold pieces
of the land he once tried to farm.

He built his house himself, with my Uncle George.
Great plate windows looked over most of Puget Sound.
"Water is the one thing that's beautiful in any weather."
"They'll only get me out of this house feet first."

The night I couldn't get him up from the bathroom floor,
they did.

The minister didn't slam his damn book
on the damn podium, but Tom down the road
brought bottles of his elderberry wine
that George always liked, and everyone,
even the two spinster teetotalers,
had a glass.


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