My grandfather left my father’s family
In the middle of a cold night in 1933.
He said he was going out for coal.
That was two years ago
and on the day I turned twelve:

Now, I am the man of the house and we must eat,
so, I am here for the food.
I understand your mother died, and I feel for that.
She must have been a wonderful woman, raising such mourners.
I see her there, up at the altar in her fancy box.
So, I will file in line and cry for her with you.

But I really need your reception
More than anything.
You will have a spread, after all.
I brought my pants with the large pockets
To fill with finger foods
while I fill your world with lies
about how I knew her:
Yes, I will say between bites, she was like a mother to me.
And if you knew the truth instead of the lie I have provided,
You would understand why I am taking your little sandwiches.

I saw my father again yesterday.
Gaunt and out of a car,
He walked across the baseball field
And handed me a dollar bill
While I stood on second base.

But I did not know that I had seen him
Until I went home and described a shadow-stranger to my mother.
She handled the dollar in her hands, unsure of where to pass it.
But I am a man and I can rise above her trembling
and her stare into space, and I will use that dollar if she doesn’t.

I check the obits, and another rich one has died,
this time an old man down on Devoe.
So here I will be again, working up a good cry,
getting ready again to tell someone in a line
and in the back pew of the church
about their beautiful grandfather who helped me
fund and find my way.