Thursday, April 17, 2008

#17 Grandad

Grandad kept a saddle in his office,
plain, well worn,
next to a locked cabinet
full of guns I never learned to name.
On the wall, he put sepia photographs of Indians
next to that picture of my grandmother,
Chicago-bred but wearing chaps
on her wedding day back in 1920.

My granddad ran away to be a cowboy,
leaving behind a scrabble-hard Missouri farm
he always called misery. He tamed wild horses,
sang cowboy songs in saloons, and ran cattle
in the wild west. He could whittle,
tell bear stories, and hunt snakes.

He used to chase my sister and me
through the house with his false teeth.
We squealed and ran, never doubting he
would get us, like some bogeyman.
He taught me how to skin a deer
with a thin knife, flicking the hairy pelt
away from the flesh.

Years later, he rode a wheelchair
like a wild horse. “Let ‘er buck,” he cried.
He lived to be 100 exactly,
my grandad.

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