the falling of his body - palmer smith


art: caitlin peck


My grandpa’s thighs were tree trunks;

chubby near his bottom where his muscles

bruised from sitting in bed for too long.

 

One thunder-bit afternoon he stood up

to use the toilet without clothes

on his body- naked, like the tree

you’ve imagined.

 

His thighs bent first followed by 

the ankles and then the knees. 

 

A thud (I thought a table had fallen).

In the marbled bathroom his back

bled cancer blood- 

red

red

red

red then brown cancer blood.

 

Tears flooded down his face.

I couldn’t help him up.

I was in third grade.

He weighed 260 pounds.

My brother told me

to call the doorman and another 

person saw him naked, so

my brother and the doorman lifted 

his body off of the damp ground.

 

Scrapes of blood trickled down his back.

He grew drowsy in the bed;

I checked on him every hour 

to make sure he was okay.

 

In his view:

my pinched-concerned face.

But he winked.

We had a few more months together.

I thought

trees can live hundreds of years,

even after a branch has fallen.


- palmer smith

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