©2019 by Stephen Schwei

              Old Man

The old man rests his feet

on the raised-up root

of an October willow.

He bends down,

retrieves a discarded cap

and dangles it off the lowest limb,

not knowing that its owner

hung himself in these woods,

never will return to notice

the thoughtful gentleness

of age and autumn.

 

Perhaps the old man’s wife

hung herself years ago.

They had been divorced.

All he got was a call from the east

informing of suicide, explaining

that no one could lend him the money

to make the trip to the funeral.

So he lit a candle

and gathered up money

to send flowers to a memory.

 

Standing here years later

deciding the rocks

are too full of moss

for an old man to take off his shoes

and balance to the other bank

to get closer to the two sparrows

dipping in the water and

flying to the vacant stump.

 

There’s really no reason this cap

should lie here in the mud.

 

Voice Recording