Children should be seen
and not heard.
It's not that he says it with the
But my dad will still bring it,
like a Victorian poker chip
no one's cashing in anymore
that nonetheless, he feels compelled to play.
It's in his blood, these iron spades.
But they're not in mine--
it took years for me to flush them free--
and it's with this distance that I weigh
the lightening of a man
in his grandchildren's hands.
The generational shift
is most likely a cause
and I don't mean to pretend
that the thaw is profound, but--
There is a softening now of his hardest edges,
the wryest indication of amusement and tolerance,
as if his grandchildren's cheerfulness
and frank expectation of the same from the universe
were a land he might choose to vacation in,
before returning, a little sunburnt, to his solitude.
And even I, who in spite of his love,
feared this man for most of my life--
not for any specific unkindness
but because he seemed to expect me to
Even I, occasionally--
if I lay down my arms--
will gamble across the rusty river
on the little bridge that time built.