John Walter Edwards strummed the guitar
under a sycamore tree.
City trash-truck worker,
curer of thrushes’ problems,
brought directly to holder & folder of his wallet,
my grandmother, Mary Emma.
New to the rise of millennium-ripped questions,
memory is technological; it lurks & it forgives
dilution & tint—
I have some questions from all the grandchildren:
Were you atheist or agnostic?
In your sphere, God was nowhere?
Why the austerity, so few words?
Leo-born to tempt & deter—
John to wife,
Daddy to Catherine
Willie Doris, Ruby
Johnnie Mae & Mary
Elizabeth, Dezzie & Louise.
to weekend women
& back porch bathers—
of anyone decisive,
you sucked raw eggs.
Intro to empty:
your mother’s portrait, above
a bed, straight-nailed to the wall,
& never a ringing rotary—
as a way of being,
Young sergeant of Grand Forks,
here the tall tan men are sun
& though private, I am no secret.
this legacy of amours & faulting
darts my tumult.
from Sweetgum & LightningFind more by Rodney Terich Leonard at the library
Copyright © 2021 Rodney Terich Leonard
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.