from a photograph of my maternal grandfather 
discovered at my cousin Natasha's home 

You're not her grandfather, 
But here I stand, finding you, 
As usual, leaning against a wall 
In some other woman's home. 
This is how I've found you 
After all these years. Same way 
Grand used to find you, too. 

Shifting through four decades, 
I move to stand closer to you, 
Wanting you to finally see me. 
Still-can't make your eyes see mine. 
You delicately balance a shot glass 
Between thumb and index 
Fingers of your taut, sculpted arm. 

Same amber arm that sent 
The flapping screen door flying 
One direction, the last time, 
Ripping a gash within meshed fibers. 
The slim thwack of pine 
Slammed in Grand's face, echoing 
Like buckshot, all these years. 

I extend lax fingers to the wrinkles, 
Then flare waxy nostrils against the pane, 
To stand up in your face. 
Even so, you still don’t see me, 
Just like those penance visits 
Amounting to two hours 
Over just as many years, 

Buying twelve grandchildren 
Sandwiches to feed your guilt 
-This fading memory of you: 
Mom said, I remember 
The white majorette boots 
With blood-red tassels 
That he shipped C. O. D. 

All the way from Chicago. 
I was so proud while everyone 
Cooed through clenched teeth, 
'They're so pretty, Baby Ann.' 
Grand grumbled, 
Too bad he couldn't remember 
To send money for food. 

Our family never could get that 
Inky, bleeding stain off the boots. 
The mark soiled through the grain 
But never softened the rub. 
Don't get nervous, 
My gregarious good-time man, 
I'm not here to summon you home. 

We've resigned ourselves 
To loving you second-hand. 
I won't force you 
To come out of the grey-to stand 
Eye to I with me. I know now 
You are a keepsake best left 
In some other woman's home.