What Grampa Knew
From what I’ve been able to piece together,
Grampa saw things that a sensitive boy—
I cried way too easily even as an
Adolescent, when Babe, his aged doberman,
Was put down (and squirrels that ate from
The bird feeder, and bunnies that ate the
Carrots we planted each spring)—
Like me could never reconcile
With the complexities of life and
Death and their makings and takings.
Bullets of battle amongst buckshots of mercy.
He never talked about the War itself,
He just nodded, as Gram did tell, from her
Perspective: how it affected her
And how it affected them, and how she
Presumed it affected him in light of her.
They moved, shortly after marrying,
When he was in flight school; he almost
Made her a widow before leaving the states.
She went without nylons and butter
And without the man she adored.
Redacted locations amongst love letters.
I could never know what Grampa knew, and
Would never presume to. I could never
See what Grampa saw, and would
Never want to. I could never give what Grampa
Gave, to his wife and daughters—my mother
And aunt—because I could never have
As much to lose. And this he did before
He even knew us: even as he already
Loved us. Even as he loved things he’d
Never know: drones, microchips and Twitter.
Safety for democracy amongst complexes.
I know, through deductive listening, that
Grampa was stationed in the Aleutian
Islands, and that he survived a chlorine
Gas incident that stole his lungs and
Haunted him into his final years. I know that
He was incredibly handsome and brave,
And that he loved his family more than
Anything and he loved America just as much.
I know that he never complained about, or
Regretted, his sacrifices or his pain.
Liberty confirmed for an unpromised progeny.
Grampa knew an America I can’t ever know,
Imperfect though it may have been.
He knew a world I should never know,
Because of what he gave for ideas much
Larger than him, for a wife who buttered
Bread with oleo, who painted lines on the
Backs of her legs to simulate panty hose,
For daughters who’d come soon enough,
For his friends’ kids, for me, and for people
He’d never know: for an America
He could never recognize:
He’d never know:
But that he’d love:
I know he loves.