Phoebe Bruce // THE THUNDER THAT SHOOK MY GRANDPA’S SHOULDERS

The bows of trees shuddered

in the wind,

and Grandpa’s hand

made a fist

around my forearm.

 

“Phoebe, dear,”

he rasped abruptly,

as the rain

carved careful rivers

in the mud.

 

“You should be leaving now,”

and I nodded my head—

but I did not pry my arm away,

and he did not let it go.

 

His wiry fingers clenched tight

around my wrist;

the knuckles,

pallid pockmarks

against my skin.

 

“Phoebe,” he said again—

and I understood.

 

“Grandpa, it’s okay,”

I called out through the dark;

but my voice was lost

to the drumming

of rain,

like steel bullets,

against the roof.

 

“Grandpa, it’s okay.”

I begged,

“You’re not there anymore.”

 

You’re not there

anymore.

 

You are not.

 

But the words I’d said still echoed

in my ears.

And Grandpa’s hand stayed clenched

around my own.

And I watched the first, lean Tupelo tree

 

shatter and fall

in the wind.

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