Gaunt Percy, the elder, late in his eighties still
mincing inconceivably up Railroad Avenue to buy
hisself a little something soft and digestible at
the Blue Lake Market, then sidling home again
like a ghostly soldier of a long forgotten war,
slowly past the vacant Standard station he once
ran, its pumps rusting like old grave markers;
And Martin, his brother, younger by a year or two,
stocky as Percy was thin, and gruff as an old bear,
a Lucky Strike forever dangling from his lip,
beloved Fire Chief of the volunteer department
until his health failed him, dead these many years
and buried at the old cemetery;
As if the Jackson boys still cry in bitter whimpers
from these dry and rustling shadows, "Here!
Here we passed our finest hours long afore
you'uz a gleam a'tall in yer dead pappy's eye!"
That tide of human joys and cares, which once
washed o'er these well-worn sills
and rough-trod thresholds, washes still,
washes and withdraws,
for me as once it did for them.
--January 16, 1990 (rev. 2010)