He was a small man, who dreamed but never slept.
I have a photograph of my grandfather's father
sitting astride a shaggy pony, wearing his one suit,
fedora perched on his head like a crown—the proud paterfamilias.
There's a furtiveness to his eyes, nervous, perhaps,
atop this beast at least a head taller than himself.
He knew a little English, I suppose.
At Narragansett Power they called him “Joe P.”
José Pereira, from São Miguel,
sailed into America as a conqueror's minion,
one of Vasco de Gama's henchmen.
He came over on the Fabre Steamship Lines,
on one of many boats that arrived in Providence
each week from the Azores.
At the point of entry, a clerk wrote:
“Joe (sic)Pereira Perry; wife Anna Rosa Rogers.”
They had four children: Albert, Edward, Raymond, and Alice.
Albert, whose crazy hair rose up from his head like a fountain,
died at eighteen years of hydrocephalus—“water-on-the-brain.”
The Trophy Room
As a child, all I knew of my Portuguese grandfather
was the room full of his accomplishments,
framed Frank Lanning Award (with its cartoons and caricature)
and Providence Journal articles on the walls.
The sight of my grandmother at her nightly ritual:
placing half a grapefruit, a glass of tomato juice,
and a bowl of dry bran cereal on the kitchen table—
my grandfather's morning repast.
While other children kept vigil for St. Nicholas,
I never bothered, knew he existed—
my Portuguese grandfather was another story.
I'd sneak down to catch him in the act of leaving,
concealing myself in the kitchen cupboards until
he came down for his breakfast. I rarely caught him,
falling asleep among cereal boxes and
cases of Narragansett Beer. Tracing the letters
on the cardboard, “Hi neighbor, have a ‘Gansett!”
His broken fast on the table like Santa's milk and cookies.
Did he smile to himself as he passed
the trophy room on his way out to his other life?
Scott Edward Anderson is the author of Fallow Field (Aldrich Press, 2013) and Walks in Nature’s Empire (The Countryman Press, 1995). He has been a Concordia Fellow at the Millay Colony for the Arts and is a past recipient of the Nebraska Review Award. website • contact