Eternity #1: My Grandfather's Trailer Home

In the morning, almond blossoms steep in the rainwater puddles on the all-weather carpet of the porch steps. My grandfather combs soft white sideburns in the silence of his bathroom. Watches himself do knee bends in the mirror on the back of the door. He spades the garden and re-stakes the tomatoes with strips of old pillow cases, checks the pole beans for deer. In the afternoon, he hangs his undershirts on the line in yet another fond breeze that brings the tang of gopherwood. Or maybe that’s just pine.

At night, he works on a fictional memoir set during the War of 1812.

Chapter LXI: “An Ardent Word with the Captain’s Betroth’d. In Which I Pay a Dear Price for My Boldness.”

He begins: Riding alone in the bracing air of a Virginia

He begins: “Hire the negro barber to play

This long in heaven my grandfather sees limits to perfection. He wakes up with headaches. When the weather turns, his scars itch. The pipes knock when the hot water runs. The violets on the good china have been all but rubbed away. Every night the ginger tomcat sits outside the screen door and watches him, blinking. My grandfather knows better than to let an outdoor cat in.

As a boy on the farm in Sparta, Michigan, he split wood for his blind mother. With a sharpened axe, he could skin shingles of hickory thin enough for her to whistle bird calls through.

Grinding wheel. Screen door. Axe. Whistle.

My grandfather starts a list of things he wishes he would have named.

Bird Report

Freezing rain last night and this afternoon the trees still have ice on the topmost limbs. The sun shines and the trees’ glass fingers glitter.  Only one bird all day on the telephone lines: kestral. Not there for long. Lifted one claw then the other. Then left.

Also—robins in a bright green field of winter wheat. Didn’t see them at first. Then saw one and another and another and they kept duplicating like a trick of animation. Plink. Plink. Plink-Plink-Plink-Plink.