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Selection 2 of

The Patriarch

by John Kent
I remember the old house
at thirty-five, Winfield street,
Worcester, Mass;
a vineyard in back,
hemmed in by other lots.
My grandfather, with loving hands
cared for the vine.

I was six or seven,
helped him press the grapes.
Wash your feet first!
he'd shout each time.
In this big square box
filled with red grapes,
with unrestrained glee,
I jumped up and down.
(That's how we did it then).

During evening meal,
he poured the wine,
with an obvious flourish,
proudly proclaimed,
When grandmother wasn't looking,
he'd slip me a sip...or two...sometimes three.
I'd feel warm and giggly...and think,
what a great man
my grandfather is.

At the dinner table
conversation was animated,
love unknowingly demonstrated.
My grandfather was stern
but his tone was soft.
He was the head man.
He'd give me a wink and a smile.
In his clear strong voice, he'd shout,
what a fine, young man!

I remember the house,
big and bountiful,
bursting with the exuberance
of nine sprouting youths.
My grandmother sat
on the backyard porch,
fanning herself vigorously
in the summer heat.
The aroma of her cooking
pulled us into the kitchen.

On the day my grandfather died,
the house was quiet,
the laughter stilled.
My grandmother cried.
When her tears were spent,
she was never the same.
She rocked on the backyard porch
and watched the vines,
as they slowly died.

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Copyright © 1999 by John Kent. All rights reserved.