OPENING MY FIST
by David James
the life and death of me
in his crib, a towel for a blanket.
Henry, my youngest grandchild,
about pieces of toast the size of cars
swimming in a sea
of lemon rice soup.
my heart falls out
when he smiles at me
or says, “Wow, oh, wow.”
we spent an hour this morning
climbing up the stairs,
climbing back down.
there are no words pure enough
for the love
of my three grandchildren.
they are my personal gold mines,
my new stars, oceans yet undiscovered,
I turn 60 next week
and already find myself calculating
how much time I have left
to see them graduate, marry, have kids of their own,
struggle to lift the weight
of the future
off my tired back
which they will not be able to do,
life is an opening of your fist
and a letting go.
you give away pieces of yourself here,
lose small pieces there, and hope
someone sees them,
picks them up, maybe even keeps them,
in a dresser, a glove compartment,
a hole in the back yard.
borges was right—a man dies for real
when the last person
in the world
who remembers him
I have sixteen years left,
if the lousy actuaries know what they’re doing.
maybe I can prove them wrong.