Stroll

Stroll

(For Henry)

The sidewalk, his nursery.
The stroller, his crib.
Together my grandson
and I cruise the Low Country
bejeweled in dew after
last night’s downpour.
Our gentle jostle over humpbacked
pavement signals our arrival.
We attract a following: first,
a neighbor woman rushing
across the street to catch
a glimpse of him: “He’s
beautiful – too pretty to be
a boy.”

Then a trio of ravens
stately strutting under
a canopy of Magnolias
casting wide arcs of shade.
At nine months he won’t
recall how we winced and weaved
to avoid direct exposure
or how this morning roses
shivered, voluptuous pears
bobbed on their branches,
and the sky leaked a palate
of colors in the east.

My wife laments
we might not live
to see him graduate
eighteen years from now.
I say we have to live
as if we won’t.
The wheels of the stroller
record oscillations of time
spent, sped, and slowing

Invoking seventy-two names
of God found in the Kabala,
I plead with angelic presences
to surround him with an aura,
a force field, a penumbra
of protection when I’m gone.

But today he’s safe,
and I’m his chauffer,
careful to glance left,
then right, then left again,
a mantra I say aloud
for a time when he grasps
the need to pause to hear
voices whispering in switchgrass
encroaching to obscure his
view.

Crisscrossing a matrix
of side streets, we roll
upon another stroller
rattling around a corner
toward us. The little
girl’s mother and I check
on each other’s progress
in getting the babies to nap.
I wonder if they visit
in dreams of whatever
sort babies have?

Once more we set sail,
skirting puddles, navigating
to archipelagos of dry
surface soaked by sun.
Ahead our destination:
In the side yard, a copse
of bushes with a wren and her
nestlings tucked safely inside.
I assure him we too are
birds of a feather soaring
at dizzying heights until
drifting on pillows
of wind we rock our
gentle cradle at last
coming home to roost.

7 Comments

  1. Love, love, love this. I
    imagine the street and sidewalks you slowly stroll, enjoying every minute of your new adventure. Thank you for painting this vivid picture of the two of you. 💙💙

    1. He’s my Boo Boo. Love you, Gail!

  2. Having a one month old grandson this was spot on for me. Thanks Eddie.

  3. Such beautiful and hard things about being human in this world, Eddie. What a gift to read this morning.

  4. Such marvelous imagery and wonderful resonances. I really love this graceful poem.

  5. Eddie I liked the way you threaded the grandfatherly angst and urge to protect your kin into the neighborhood imagery. As an older father who vowed to get my daughter out her diapers before I started wearing my own, this thoughtful poem hit very close to home.

  6. This was great!

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