willard harris

grandfather harris
i just learned that you have a first name
willard

i have never seen you
to me you were only a whispered
story of a house painter
drunken broken back
from a long fall

i think of my sister
now a house painter
her injuries

mom always said
you were a hobo
i decided long ago
this was her romantic fiction
you were just a bum

her narrative has ended
and for this reason
i am curious
about her origin story
so i ask my father because he is now the only one left

from him i learn that you were
intelligent and unreliable
uncomfortable in your own skin
unsure how to behave
like me

i learn
that you were in the great war
that you really were a hobo
that you didn’t lose your hair
that you had a moment of grace at the end
before you got brain cancer

i learned that my parents worried
that i would be, like you
a drunk
or crazy
a bum

mom once said
that you and i are
similar in a way that frightened her

now that i know you better
i feel the same way

Moores Hill
July, 2014

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