I’d not noticed it before:
Signs of your coming demise
Loaded into your very hand,
The one waving at the camera
As you beamed, standing in front of the museum
That showcased your life’s work.
Your hand a digital trainwreck;
Inexplicable folds of skin, non-belonging, deep imprints
In the tips of your fingers, when had it all
Become so misshapen?
89 years young, the top of your head framed By the letters “CDC MUSEUM”.
Yet you just smiled, natty in glasses and navy sweater,
Unaware of what your hand told the lens, told us all:
I am leaving, I am leaving soon. Don’t forget
to ask me to tell you all that I have done,
everything these hands have wrought.
Did you ask me? I tried to write it for you,
with these hands, even this very withered one, until
I could no longer write, and then had to
record my voice. But then,
I could not remember.
Your hand mutely asks: will you reconstruct me?
Yes, I answer now, I am writing in the history you omitted,
researching, searching so much for the person you were
independent of my father. But even before I do that (my life work)
You are already reconstructed (so finely)
in manifestations you never dreamt.
Your descendant’s hands (two generations on)
beckon the future:
Spread wide as yours, but flawless- smooth, diminuitive palms
everything yours were when you were her age,
just a poor boy living in Oxford, Georgia,
reading, writing and working, stealing ice, carrying groceries,
excavating your way out of the Depression and into World War II