Good Grief! (Grandpa’s Liturgy)

By: Benjamin Thomas

 

Jed and Evan were there when your attention finally drifted,

and your hand lingered

on an old, sinewed buckeye limb

and the chipper

took your pinky

at the knuckle.

“Good grief!” 

The grandkids were eleven and they had never seen anything like it;

they froze, drained of sap.

Evan yelled

and his voice broke lengthwise,

and blood spattered

Jed’s Muck Boots,

and it might as well have been his own.

 

At Thanksgiving, your stump is modest,

wearing fig leaves.

The grandkids cast secret, sidelong glances

toward you at the table’s head

as you pass biscuits with a gauze-veiled hand,

sacramental.

Your children avert their eyes, embarrassed,

blush

as drought-hardened fields blush

dark at rainwater’s violation.

But you yet measure words in breadth,

in depth:

“Well. 

I think I found what’s wrong

with the Buick.”

And one of your sons,

taking a biscuit in turn, returns:

“Thank God!”

 

And so we’ll pass the wicker basket,

son to son, in turn,

as your sorrow

melts forever

on our tongues.