for Mrs. J. C. Lucas, Sr.
Mornings we gather on the verandah in rockers
To catch the winter sun’s slant through the columns.
Miss Ginny, draped in her wheelchair, rocks a little
Out of habit, watches the passersby and, in distant
Pantomime, raises a hand to each hand that raises.
Afternoons, we climb the narrow stairs with books.
Here, in a miniature brass chest like a pirate’s,
An American Legion lapel pin, a brass asterisk
With enameled insignia your granddad wore after
The Great War, and with it a pair of flashy earrings
Dared once, perhaps, on a hot cotillion night —
Now cracked glass and tarnish. Befuddled from naps,
We rise to voices in the hall and an amber light
Ebbing from the windows, its currents threatening
To preserve us forever among the whispery murmurs.
But it’s the t.v. blaring downstairs. Propped before it,
She is dying, she who outlived him by twenty years,
The last of six generations in this house, is dying.
Still good for a rubber or bridge, she hasn’t quit.
Her good eye flashes yet with impish rage.
We could imagine your great-great-granddad
Striding down the main hall in riding boots with a whip,
But he was a banker and wore fine calfskin slippers.
History preaches romance, practices economics.
How can we, and how can we not,
Close it behind us with the click of a brass box.