My grandmother said     he only ever cried once,
when his mother died,     briefly as a light
rain even then.     Today I don’t think
he knows me until he     tucks his chin to his chest
and weeps,     says he wants
to go home.     He drinks
cranberry juice     from a styrofoam cup
and my 3-year-old     watches him
delightedly,     drinks when he drinks.
In the far corner     a woman lies
on a ration     of sunshine,
big body curled up confident,     cat-like.
Another approaches,     berates us
with profane words,     exhorts us
back to work.     My grandmother
says she once managed     an airplane
production line,     implies there was something
in the metal,     seeds of dementia.
When my mother     was growing up,
my grandfather spent     evenings in the garage,
built a P-40 fighter plane     70% to scale,
flew it himself.     I hold
the day’s disturbances     in my hand like stones,
run my fingers over them     until sleep takes them,
gives me other     memories of being
in class again     staring into Old English
manuscripts with students:     them noting
the strange writing,     long trains of thorny letters
running margin to margin,     words cutting into words.
Me telling them     someone will come along
and piece out     the units of thought,
add punctuation     and white space,
will find the 4-beat lines,     lay them down in a shape
on the page,     give it a title.


Ginger Hanchey