Not much, I say when my wife asks

if I think about loved ones gone to their graves.

She’s jolted with sorrow, she says, in a crowd

when her grandmother’s eyes revisit,

wearing a stranger’s smile.  A common event

among big hearts wired for the warmth

of memorable connections.  Makes me worry

I’m broken somewhere.

                                  Across the room

an old duffer chats with the restaurant hostess

asking about her children.  It’s the kindness

in his listening . . . which triggers me.  His head

angled sympathetically a bit sidewise,

the generosity of the space and time he allots her

to go on and on.

                       Like Henry, as whitecaps

lifted and tossed our little boat.  Dear Henry,

telling me later he couldn’t swim, braving the turbulence

to hike Wild Horse Island, trusting

my much younger hands at the helm as I blathered

about nothing worthwhile.  Trekking all afternoon,


returning sunburned and ravenous, our wives scolding

our reckless daring.  Henry gimping around the kitchen

on worse-than-ever bad knees, sipping his whiskey,

still calling me Sonny-Boy, claiming he’d outpaced me

up and down the hillsides . . .       .




I’ll never forget, when our trail encountered head-on

a clan of bighorn sheep, how Henry put his hand on my shoulder

and set himself a little behind me — as the sheep filed past —

as if I might shield him, should something rough break loose,

or something right go suddenly wrong.