He sits, silent,
no longer mistaking the cable
news for company—
and when he talks, he talks of childhood,
remembering some slight or conundrum
as if it is a score to be retailed
and settled after seventy-five years.
Rare, the sudden lucidity
that acknowledges this thing
that has happened
More often, he recounts
his father’s cruelty
or a chance deprived
to him, a Negro
under Jim Crow.
Five minutes ago escapes him
as he chases 1934, unaware
of the present beauty out the window,
the banks of windswept snow—
or his wife, humming in the kitchen,
or the twilit battles in Korea, or me
when he remembers that I am his son.
This condition—with a name that implies
as if it owns him,
which it does.
Copyright © 2024 by Anthony Walton. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 8, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.