He said wallpapers in his study must be plain;
no flowers, trees, birds, or senseless curlicues
can match the birth-to-baptism-to-birthday
pictures that he prays would include weddings,
births, elf-looking poses of children and theirs,
grandchildren and theirs (he’d be a hundred),
framed and frozen in time, a collection of smiles
that would bind the Earth like a ribbon of glee
when knotted from-pursed-end to-toothy-end.
He said he will be the memento-keeper of long
remembrances, a Methuselah of happy times,
and he would not exchange his role for places
in havens of peace and quiet, he’d have laughter
and surprise squeals of romping lads and lasses,
infants once, gossoons and ingénues forever.
All his waking and sleeping hours are litanies
of joie de vivre: was that Marie on the turf?
How new, yet how knowing her whole-face
smile comes through like a burst of sunshine
that promises a long-drawn spring, a summer
of running across strawberry fields, jumping
into lily-mottled rivers. Was that Matthew
sprawled on the soccer green, his megawatt
grin saying: I’m okay, gramps, okay. Okay?
Was that Chloe in a princess’ veil? Did she
do that regal pirouette, and that wild bourree?
Was that Megan with her palette and canvas,
showing off a portrait of a once chubby Mikee?
Was that him needing help blowing his cake’s
Candles, and all ten grandchildren lending it?
Abandon all dread and heartbreak you who
enter this space, this paradise, his artlessly
scribbled sign on his door warned. This place,
this heart, this parlour of warmth and love,
this refuge. He looked at all his frames again,
Reminded the renovator: No decor. Just plain.
---Albert B. Casuga
*My grandchildren: First row: Michael Albert, Louis Martin, Chloe Dominique; Second row: Megan Sarah, Taylor Lauren, Sydney Alexis (with hat); Last row: Matthew Francis, Daniel Anthony, Diana Dy (eldest) carrying Marie Clementine. At the baptismal rites for Marie (our youngest grandchild).
This is Poem 20 in my poem-a-day project for National Poetry Month April).