Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Visit

by Bobby Steve Baker

Once; it seems a life ago, I drove in procession
this rudiment of road and so I know it well.
     Two wheel ruts enclose grasses two feet high
     whose heavy buds we severed on the grill
intruding through
the winding pines that whistled with our passing,
whistled in pursed lips of the wind. Whispering our
     to those who understood their sticky tongue
     from years of idle listening to their seductive
Fallen pine cones crunched beneath our tires
a squirrel stood statue still beside the lightly
travelled trail.
     My son, oldest of five, and the only one
     to know his grandfather, was impatient
as a child will be when he anticipates a visit
with papa and will receive a treat, for sure a treat.
     Past the final cloistering of trees
     there he was in a small clearing by a pond, sitting
on a stone, smoking a cigarette, directing
other men, always Master Chief of the Boat,
     never satisfied, nothing done quite right.
     He had lost weight, but then I realized
the last time I saw him he had lost weight,
and the light in his eyes for his grandchild
     was so bright there was some left over
     for his son a glint in the eye of a father
who loved the idea of loving his child
but could not hold him to his chest and encircle him.
     He gave me his Navy medals to give to my boy
     who was delighted by the terribly funny stories
that were told about the war.
Don’t be so long in coming back he said,
     dragging smoke off the dying embers of the cigarette
     as we turned to take our leave of him,
and he slipped again beneath the mist
the stone wobbling for a moment like a buoy.

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