By Pete Mladinic

Schaeffer writes:

Jeanne, before your grandfather 
was your grandfather, one afternoon
he towered in a door at the top of stairs
that led from the breezeway to a foyer:
a black fedora, full, trim white mustache,
black jacket, across his black vest a silver
watch chain.
I was five.  Looking up at him laughing I felt
alone, frozen there.

Three years later, in your cellar with its tiles
and knotty pine,
a daguerreotype from before the Great War:
his mustache a dark handlebar,
he wore a blouse, at his side a sheathed
saber, a tassel on its grip.
In the old country
he rode in the cavalry of Kaiser Wilhelm.

He towered in a door at the top of stairs,
the fedora’s tilt to one side.
Looking up I shriveled into the trim
of his white mustache,
misery white hot, balled
inside, three years before you were born.

Peter Mladinic’s poems have recently appeared in Neologism, Adelaide, the Mark, Ariel Chart, 433, Art Villa and other online journals.  He lives with six dogs in Hobbs, New Mexico.

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