Ernest Harry Adams
I inhale and inhale but cannot turn this crumpled towel,
musty and smoke ridden though it is, into you.
Who else would have let me tangle fraying hair?
Salty strands entwine synthetic brown,
where the plastic doll’s brush became lodged at your crown
until your laughter vibrates to the chair and me on your lap,
and grandma gasping to catch her errant breath…
The arcing tennis ball, hairy as you grew weary,
sitting on the front step, flat roofs sliding down into the distance
toward the “Cwop shop” at the end of the world,
short tumble down broad steps, sliding like flat roofs into the distance,
the promise of peppermint humbugs and peanuts,
and reckless trolley rides across the dusky car park.
Old and often in pain yet you never tired of me, not once.
The sand was firm that afternoon, I was sure of the location of my toes,
splashing in waves retreating, squealing at waves returned,
just ten or twenty paces behind, your smile bore me on its curve,
cradling your pipe in bony fingers,
upside down crab sunbathing on a bed of polyester blend,
your sun struck face my lighthouse lamp…
Until the grey cliffs became a hard shoulder,
nudging me aside from games at the shore,
salt water expanding my tiny lungs,
indifferent sea intent on smothering me in wet blankets
heavier than our afternoon naps had ever been
but in one continuous motion you are up,
grasping me against your beating heart,
pipe discarded, the somnolent crab doubled and clasping tight,
held fast against your beating heart
until the spinning waves became grandma’s washing line,
whirling your soggy pound notes dry,
pipe smoke rising into a nectarine sky.
About the poet:
I’m a second year Psychology student who would like (eventually) to work in therapeutic clinical settings with adults experiencing mental illness.