For My Grandfather

When my grandfather went away, October headed north into the winter, and I was cold of the crying in back bedrooms, restless at the whispers, at the fussing of leaves in the mouths of the house. Away myself from the cooling house, from the dusting of my mother, away, far as grandfather, who left me there, who left with his German into the north, away at the creek, rock-walking the granite, I was quiet as Sunday in an autumn town, my game strange with the haze of the burning leaves as they lost their small summer to winter. Even then, though my coat wore out that day, thinner as the wind blew back from the winter, though the water hurt as it wet the rocks, even then I was childish and able to play, only quiet in my stepping from rock to rock, wishing the dusting would stop, and the whispers, and that my grandfather were there. Now, in the drought in the middle of winter, one of my impermanent winters only of weather and my gradual age, as the sun swings down in a dead-end month, with water dust in its dunes of snow, twenty more years have lengthened the thought of a playing child in smoky October. My mother that day couldn’t dust enough to stop the burning up by breath of all our combustible selves, but grandfather, guttural tongue stiff with the winter, left us seventy years when he left, and proved by the sudden north of the house that human fire is our first house, and we are the waste which makes increase.

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