Fall 2009 / Issues / Poetry 2009 / Volume 40

Aardvark — William O. Burns

I remember my grandfather

With his red robe,

Creased pajamas underneath,

Budweiser in a Texas cooler.

He would ask me to spell aardvark

Even when he wasn’t remembering things so well.

“How the hell did you know

How to spell aardvark?”

“You told me!”

We were in the kitchen.

It was hot.

Grandma was baking

Pecan pie.

The air conditioner purred,

And the air smelled like Cameron, Texas,

Like a hot attic. You could see

Particles of light

In the window–

Fugitive dust floating around his head

As he asked me to spell



The bee buzzed

At his funeral,

Round the preacher’s head

Distracted him as he tried

To change the subject.

But what was the subject?

Maybe my grandfather’s passion

For Polka dancing,

Maybe for first Word.

In the lexicon,

Maybe froth

From riptides and whitecaps

Of Galveston–Night sky

Flipped upside down with stars

As suds and moon as a casket

Drifted away from eulogy.

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