Living Midair    poems by Karen June Olson April 2019

Snapshots of My Grandfather

I conjure him with clippers
snipping flowers. He grew carnations,
peonies, and roses, and stacked his tackle
alongside a fishing pole. My old man
trolled Canadian lakes, caught and fried fish
on a hot camp fire.

Each spring, yellow petals flame
in my garden, all from a single
plant he dug from a Michigan
wood, wrapped in wet paper,
and flew inside a pocket
to St. Louis. One uprooted rhizome
retells the story to descendants
in a king-size bed of primrose.

Random objects he saved:
a slab of gold pyrite,
wildflowers pressed in cowboy books,
jaw bone of a Pike festered
in fly larvae (the one Grandma
threw to the road),
and a rabbit’s foot, curled inward
by time, as age does to things that have lived.

I promised not to follow his coffin,
drove west to the Rockies,
pitched a tent in Estes Park. There, wisps
of clouds, wind in pines, perhaps
a young deer that shadowed
my trail.

Never forget, he said to me.

I only remember.

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