A Remark in Passing on Life Undelivered

by Charles Clark  
My mother cried on the phone
It was something I said,
Grandpa doesn’t know what year it is
He can’t remember his dead brother
The one who beat a Japanese soldier
With a shovel in a foxhole
In front of 20 men
And was called,
No, not his wife’s brother
The one whose parachute didn’t
Open, and fell from the sky 
To land on his feet and survive,
Told he would never walk
And who has lived 60 years longer
With iron braces, stoically
Tending to a prize-winning farm.
No, he can remember
Uncle June, his wife’s brother,
The man who writes beautiful letters
In perfect cursive
That make my mother cry
And she pleads me to write to him,
Though I hardly do.
He is genuine, kind and
Now my mother wants her mom 
To visit her brother
Before the end
To sit in wicker chairs
In sticky Midwestern air
Next to the peeling white barn
That tourists now stop to photograph,
To sip bitter tea aside one another
And recall the times they had
When they were my age.
My grandfather is lost
And frightened
He needs his wife, he
Cannot fly or drive or
Finish sentences
But you can see it in his eyes,
I said, regretfully cold
And so my mother cried.