When Dad had his easy operation
he quit smoking, cold turkey,
and Peggy and I traced and crayoned

the encyclopedia’s glossy plates.
I gave him a cardinal, a goldfinch,
a blue jay and still know those basic colors,

their cocked depictions. Today,
near-blind, he’s ready
to hand back over whatever can’t be moved—

some ’20s textbooks, Grandpa’s elaborate camera,
the table saw that hasn’t cut much in years and years.
And I’m trying my best to feel sad

about now but grope around another corner
instead: I see I should settle again,
start collecting for sons who, in another

thirty-five years, will need to help
clear out a house, haul away
quaint power tools, inlaid tables,

floor lamps, a love seat, an assortment
of dusty cup hooks and nails,
and several odd poems featuring birds.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Psychological Clock.

D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for 34 years and lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. Poems and prose have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. His latest of eight poetry collections are If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press) and Surreal Expulsion (The Poetry Box), and his microchapbook All Her Jazz is free and downloadable-for-the-folding at Origami Poems Project. His author page:

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