A boy embraces the keys of a piano
And runs his fingers where another once played.
If he sits still, the instrument warms.
If he closes his eyes, he can smell tobacco.
Soon, he hears the full-bodied laugh
Which trembles through him like brontide
And sweeps him
To where his father might be.
An old man showed his grandson
The red-latticed edifice of a temple he had raised
The boy looked on wondrously and solemnly
For his grandfather had built walls to hold up the sky
And created a canopy that would shelter him all his days.
I did not realize
On the backs of people.
And took for granted
The loved ones
To one like me.
If only I had told
Of my gratefulness sooner
And learned how
To architect my own.
I no longer
Have the energy
Or hate —
Only this uncaring.
Like the veil of a bride
Tender falls the night
Around your sleeping head.
The moon as your attendant
Watches with shy pride
While leaves tap on the window —
Harbingers of future courtiers.
The rusted red wagon
Anchored by granddad on the porch
Once roamed the seas
With little boys battling Midway
And in royal gold filigree
Pulled Ms. Queen the border collie
On bumpy London cobblestones
It cradled the sod for mom’s petunias
And spilled with cloying sweetness —
A childhood Garden of Babylon.
Mothers give you the whole wishbone;
They tell you half-dreams are an impossibility —
That all the goodness in your future
Is already yours
Were we to scramble up the crumbling steps
Of the red-shingled cottage by the sea
Smelling of salt and rain, and hollowed by moor cold
The peat moss with soft bulbous heads
Spread sleeping on the stone, a cushion for a mouse
And our bare toes, wrinkled by the long trek —
We would hear the rustling of the wind
Against the battered shutters left ajar
Abandoned like thieves in the dark
The luminescence of memories casting a wan glow
On nights spent gnawing on leather
And pulling spuds dark as stone from the ground
Handed down by a grandfather that never spoke
But did in the grimness of his lips
A history we dared to romanticize
On a mid-September night
Karaoke drifts from the courtyard
Cantonese ditties and Adele’s Skyfall
The neon pharmacy sign glows
An urban marquee
Grandfathers and grandmothers gather
For an almost impromptu festival
The day before, families sat for mooncake
Today, their absence is more keenly felt
Upon the steed’s back
The boy waves his wooden sword
Mother holds the reins