I remember the cold wet washcloth
we put on my grandfather’s face at four in the morning.
My grandmother would get us up
after the biscuits and the bacon were ready;
then, send us back in for him.
It seems like a lifetime away, that tiny house
with its wood stove. I don’t know how long
they lived there before I was born; but, that was the place
where both her feet were sliced through by tractor discs;
then sewn back on like one of those patchwork quilts
that she made for every daughter, son and grandchild,
great and greater. She’d always walked with a limp
and though it seemed like some old legend;
at the end of the day, when she took off her shoes,
we’d look at her scars, imagining it all over again.
They’re both gone now; and, as I pass through these years
collecting new memories; I begin to understand
how important those moments were.
I pause a little longer now
to examine the scars
and time seems like some thin veil
that I could pull back and reach through
to touch my grandmother’s feet, to massage away her pain;
like the incomprehensibly thin surface of an eyeball,
separating the fluid that gives us form
from the air that gives us life,
from the unheard message that holds us in the balance
between spirit and fire.