Honor System

Two rust laden wrought iron gargoyles flanked the gate.
They watched traffic pass on the street.
Cobwebs stranded flies between fence rods.
Paul entered cautiously.
Faded on top, a red ball remained motionless.
The knee high grass hopped with locusts.
A woman, white as a ghost, watched from the window.
Her limp hair even paler than her skin.

A photo series hung from a clothes line by wooden pins.
Black and white nineteen-forties film stars at leisure.
Often at home without make up.
The sign stated, Newly printed from original negatives.
On the table sat a locked metal box with a slot.
Hand scrawled in marker $50 each.
A box of white cotton gloves sat next to the cashbox.
Paul pulled on a pair to examine his childhood heroes.
He thought how easy it would be to pilfer the set.
A grating sound rounded upon him.
He glanced to see the gargoyles now looking in his direction.

Paul slid a greenback U.S. Grant in the slot.
He exited with John Wayne.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Point Where Two Curves Meet

I cannot see my grandparents.
I thought they would wait for me
on the cusp of the apocalypse.

Maybe they are there
but I do not recognize them.

Maybe I do not see them
because I never knew what they looked like.
There were no photographs.

I look around for Mom and Dad.
No bickering, so they are not around.

Maybe this darkness with an edge
is not the apocalypse after all.


copyright © 2020 Kenneth P. Gurney

postscript

It was only after my parents’ death that I learned of a photo album that contained images of my grandparents. I was born after three of them had passed away. I knew my paternal grandfather briefly with only one clear memory of him sitting in a chair in our house at Christmas when I was five years old.

I do not know a way of measuring the effect of having or not having grandparents in your life, how their presences shapes you, and so on. Also I do not know how to measure how their loss affected my parents’ (or anyone’s parents’) attitudes and practices in raising children.

My guess is, through lack of knowing my grandparents, I failed to appreciate family history, the farm, the immigrant experience and how it shaped the family. Simply put, I never got to hear them tell the stories of their lives.

Dianne walked in and wants to hang out. And our brief conversation that initiated hanging out knocked the thoughts I was leading to out of my brain. So If any of you have a thought about the previous three paragraphs, please leave a comment.

Love & Light.

Kenneth