He came into a world of flood, Indiana mud the color of an old man’s toe nails.
On the day of the dead he sent for us
and with a few complicated and rounded strokes in the air,
made his will.
Divided the loot of a lifetime as we looked on –
an acre of strawberries planted in rows,
a white clapboard house on stilts;
a dump truck and a one-man gravel pit
– all against the river.
His voice slipped through the dull air in a room of photographs.
His fingers spoke and he told us –
“dance, dance; sing, sing
My life was well lived.
Shed only tears of joy.
My only regret, I never heard the birds or the rising water.”
I left that day with the things that fit me –
his best Sunday shirt,
the taste of strawberries,
a pair of cracked leather work boots still caked with Indiana mud.