After the war, he suffered a nervous breakdown.
Spent some time at the State Hospital
We never lit fire crackers on Fourth of July.
He allowed sparklers, but still winced
at their flare.
I never knew a father who loved noise or bustle.
He preferred skiffs to troll across glassy lakes, his back
in opposition to Grandpa’s.
At night, he puzzled over The Racing Form, scribbled
stats from a bookie’s system, practiced endless
penmanship loops on steno pads.
His quirks did not seem strange to me. I never knew
a father who didn’t wear solid colors, who didn’t buy
five of the same black shirt.
So that day, after my nephew was diagnosed with Asperger’s,
my sister and I sat in McDonald’s to watch the lock-stepped
grandpa and grandson walk on their toes toward the counter.
Heads up in the current of light and sound, they rocked
from side-to-side to stay alert—two lifeguards synchronized
in measured crawl, waiting for their orders.
Roberta Schultz is a singer songwriter, teacher and poet originally from Grant’s Lick, KY. Her poems and song lyrics have appeared in Black Moon Magazine, Sheila-Na-Gig, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Still: the Journal, Motif, Kudzu, Riparian and other anthologies. Her three chapbooks, Outposts on the Border of Longing(2014), Songs from the Shaper’s Harp(2017), and Touchstones (2020) are published by Finishing Line Press.