Grandpa Mohr

Blindness did not deter him from shuffling
every day down the path along the Canal
at Buckeye Lake to Harry's Bar for a few
beers, white cane, a gift from the Lions
Club, extended in front of him like a giant
ant feeler.  Perpetual attire consisted of
shirt, pants, Romeo slippers and soiled
cardigan.  He smelled slightly of urine.
 
Returning to the cottage, he slid tiny steps
forward until he nudged his naugahyde
recliner, dropped onto the seat and exhaled
a sigh. Then he would close his eyes,
merely a formality, and sleep.
 
I used to stand nearby, stare at work-worn
hands and wait for him to awaken.  He never
hugged or shook hands with me.  His touch
had replaced light and was only a tool against
wrong turns and guesses.
 
The man who took careful steps to his chair
used to walk a herd of cattle fifty miles
from Bainbridge, Ohio to Columbus. Later
in life, he painted letters on railroad cars
at the roundhouse in Columbus, ran a farm
tractor after he came home from painting,
sometimes into the night, and helped to raise
ten kids with perfect table manners. 
 
Seventy years later, I stand in my garage
on Frebis Avenue, wrap fingers around his
shovel and hoe, hoist them to my shoulder
and head toward the garden. I will break soil
in his memory.

— R. NIKOLAS MACIOCI

R. Nikolas Macioci has a PhD from Ohio State University, and for thirty years taught for the Columbus City Schools.  In addition to English, he taught Drama and developed a Writers Seminar for select students.  OCTELA, the Ohio Council of Teachers of English, named him the best secondary English teacher in the state of Ohio. He is the author of seventeen books.