A Poem by Rachel Marsom-Richmond
I skipped over his name in my day book,
no need to transcribe his birthday on calendar.
Later, in conversation, I called him my mom’s dad.
“Why not grandpa?” my husband asked.
I never met him. I never knew him.
I’ve seen pictures, in our home, in a museum.
He flew helicopters. He crashed. He got back up.
He was a hero. He branded his chest
years earlier in his fraternity, and he wore a nightgown
years later when the cancer had eaten away his leg.
I’m not sure how my grandfather got lost in a cloud
of orange smoke. I’m not sure which company,
Dow Chemical or Monsanto, sent out the fatal spray,
but now I’m left with orange residue, a frame
around my memories of a man I never knew,
a man I don’t know what to call,
a man whose presence I cannot ignore.