[First appeared in The Avalon Literary Review, Spring 2016]
Some days, usually in summer
when the light is right, and my mind is quiet,
I’ll pass a street that looks familiar;
its straight trees plotted in parkways,
their trunks just wide enough for a boy to hide behind,
and think of my grandfather.
Before the hospital gowns and ice chips
when he remembered my name
and every walk was an adventure—
before he grew small.
“What is it that the sign says, Markey?”
“Words can be weapons or keys.”
An honest, “please” could buy a Chiclet
or a gum ball. A careless curse
could cost the balance of a day.
Open books on park benches,
breadcrumbs for birds.
I listened in as David took the giant
and read aloud as Odysseus took to sea.
“With a word, God spoke the world into existence.”
Doubt is death and I was very much alive.
I’d seen Ali Baba speak an entrance to a mountain
and climbed Olympus before I’d ever seen Spot run.