My grandfather never told me
about his life before he came to America;
instead, we watched boxing matches, cartoons,
and cowboys & Indians on a b & w TV;
he taught me how to play cards and crack walnuts,
how to hammer a nail and saw wood;
summers, he showed me how to pick
grape leaves and ripe tomatoes from the garden.
As seasons passed, I watched his hair gray
and clothes hang loose on his body
At his funeral, my aunt told me
that he had been married once before,
his wife and infant son slaughtered
by a band of Turkish soldiers,
and for half a century he kept it hidden
protecting me and his own sorrow
until I finally could see the dead reunited,
as if time were a blanket you could pull over your head
and grief was a stone you could turn over
like a pillow that was too hot to bear.
This poem has appeared in Coal Hill Review in their (vol. 9) Autumn 2011 issue and appears here by kind permission of the author.