When we first met, you were fifty-three,
And not yet retired from ploughing;
Still, your itch to get out was stronger
Than the bite of briers or holly,
And the 2-for-1 gloves strong enough.
Called in from the garden, you sank
Into the sofa, a green velour piece
That needed no breaking in, steeped
As it was in smoke and grit;
You immediately felt at home.
Beside your son, stoicism failed.
You experienced his joy and purpose
As one, loving me like it was 1969,
Back when pastels were for babies,
And also for everyone else.
Once held, I met your gaze, hoping
To uncover something borrowed,
Myself reflected in your blue,
And found proof that eye color
Can skip a generation, or two.
My other inheritances include:
Your quietude in conversation,
How you walked the periphery
Of the pool, before jumping in
Good humor to ripple the room.
Your special consideration of lilies
And Queen Anne’s lace,
How you saw her in everything
That she would have loved,
And each time fell to pieces.
Your indelible softness.
How you mellowed with age,
They say, like Jell-O, or a plum
In the sun – a prune? Wrinkled,
Yes, but stronger for it.
When we last met, you were seventy-three,
And not yet retired from ploughing.