Arms tired, hands
like useless crane shovels
legs strong but stiff as
tree trunks. Your shoulders
have held others up, as
the cane you’d just as soon leave
at the Elks’ hall after bingo
supports you now.
Now you sit fiddling with
glasses three years too old,
eyes awash, blinking, reading about a man
who you voted for but wouldn’t now.
Now a car passes, its music thump-
ing like the metal press at the foundry where
you gave your best years,
your best blood.
Blood in your hanky, your
coughing, your dreams. You
tell no one. It is your job now to hide
such things, to protect
your family, your friends, the
few who are still here, who
still might worry, might wonder.
Tired, how tired too soon.
Too soon to go to bed, Jeopardy
isn’t half-over yet, and your son might
yet call. But you start to doze after the first
lightning round, the first can, the first
star appears low on the horizon.
Cloudy later on, a drizzle falls,
your son doesn’t call. You wake, neck
sore, chest heavy. Sluggish, down
the hall you get into bed, then lie
there, staring into the dark, sounds
of the bingo games and metal press
ringing through your head.
Michael A. Griffith began writing poetry as he recovered from a disability-causing injury. His poems, essays, and articles have appeared in many print and online publications and anthologies. He resides and teaches near Princeton, NJ.