The morning weatherman on Channel 5
in Cincinnati said a sudden drop
in pressure might cause road rage on the highways.
The State Patrol got wind of that I guess.
Each median to Dayton had a cop car.
I calmed myself with Appalachian Spring
until the station faded on the back roads
and the smell of pigs came through my tilted moonroof.
I turned off Stoneybrook onto the limestone lane
which fits in my parents’ front lawn like a spine.
The south lawn stretches to the neighbors’ brook.
The north lawn edges to the nursing home,
where Grandma stayed a week that spring with chest pains.
Mom and Dad were off to rent her home
in Louisville. I came to Grandma-sit.
They met me at the front door by the floor clock,
Handel’s quarters chiming with hellos,
the striking almost muting our goodbyes.
With the tenth and final strike still lingering
like dust behind the Buick driving off,
my chubby grandma shuffled down the hall,
her purring calico in figure eights
around her swollen shins and walker legs.
She plopped down in her chair at the breakfast table.
“‘Down went McGinty to the bottom of the sea’,”
she said and licked her lips as I began
to cut into the cooling streuselkuchen.
“See that”? she asked and nodded toward the window
on the goldfinch in the pear out back.
“That’s where you get on board for Mars.”
“Oh, right,” I said and smiled. She meant the tower
that stood beyond the pear tree like a rocket.
Dad had tested it out there and planned
to put it up in Cedar Bog Preserve
to gauge what smog from sprawl could reach the bog.
The goldfinch flew off suddenly. “Look there!”
I whispered, pointing to some moving leaves
in underbrush cut back from the yard.
I thought that deer would spring from them; instead,
two old men, AWOL from the nursing home,
emerged and sipped at something from a flask.
They waddled to the tower, rubbed their chins,
and disappeared like Martians through the brush.