I remember that old fishing boat with a hole in it--
the one that needed patching,
the one you laid up against that small, red brick house.
I don't know that we ever went fishing
because that boat always needed fixing.
I remember crickets, and catching them,
even though I was a little bit afraid,
and I remember being fascinated by their song,
and I remember tearing their legs off to see how they worked.
I remember eating raw dandelions from the yard,
and I remember stepping on firework embers barefoot,
learning that putting out the light gave me blisters.
I remember loading sawdust into a Tonka truck while you worked,
and I remember your work boots under the coffee table.
I remember aiming at old soda cans, lined up against pine,
and I remember pretending the recoil didn't hurt
when it caught me right on my soft little jaw line.
I remember you teaching me to ride my bike
that had pink, sparkly tassels, and taking off the training wheels.
I remember picking apples from the trees in the yard,
some ripe from the limb, some rotten from the grass.
I remember stepping on an angry wasp one summer,
and I remember you nearly passing out from my pain.
I remember the weeping willow trees in the yard,
afraid there might be snakes hiding in their hair.
I remember thinking you could fix anything broken,
even though you had a reputation for breaking fixed things.
I remember your whole-hearted, full belly laugh
with your crooked teeth and sun-burned skin dark red and brown,
and the keys that jingled off of your embossed leather belt.
I remember the figurines in the yard, little gnomes of stone,
and I remember finding sunflower seeds in the dirt,
and I remember thinking planting more would grow flowers.
I remember the very old couple next door
who let me in and gave me candy on their couch,
and I remember when they weren't there anymore.
I remember you seeking out stuck strangers to pull out of the snow,
and I remember you driving your four-wheeler through the back of the garage,
and I remember you asking me not to tell mamaw,
and I remember going straight inside and tattling on you.
It was a huge hole! She was going to find out, papaw.
I remember helping mamaw to make your lunch for work,
and placing a little love note with a crude drawing inside.
I remember the sparkle in your eyes when you danced with her,
and I remember the frog on your porch step with the hidden key.
I remember always eating dessert before eating dinner
wrapped up in a towel on the porch swing, drying in the summer sun.
I remember you letting me win at pool and darts,
and coming home to mom literally caked in mud from head to toe.
I remember you videotaping me when I sang karaoke at the Moose lodge,
and flying out to Texas just to see my choir concert.
I remember reading books with a flashlight until I fell asleep
when I slept at your house because mom was working,
and I remember feeling the most safe down the hall from you.
I remember learning to skip rocks with you across the road
at the creek with the little shed right off the road that marked the place.
I remember you coming home with antlers in the bed of your truck,
and I remember how very proud you were of your state record.
I remember the way you smelled of Drakkar Noir and Marlboro smoke
and the strong scent of Coors Light always lingered on your breath.
I remember your insulin shots, and all the sugar free replacements.
I remember the one time I got into trouble with you,
you gave me a "brain duster," and it broke my heart,
because I never got into trouble with papaw.
I remember every time I entered the room, you acknowledged me
creeping in with a silly face to make me smile,
or making official announcement of my arrival to the entire room.
I remember finding that old cemetery with only a few plots,
and I remember small electrical substation near them.
I remember singing happy birthday to you over the phone,
and I remember it being your last birthday.
I remember when you were gone, how much people hurt,
and I remember how young you were, and what a shame it was,
even though I was only about fourteen years old,
and I was mad at you for choosing your own fate;
I was mad at you for choosing to leave me.
I remember the butterflies and the horses surrounding your grave
along the countryside behind the bar where you met mamaw,
and fell in love with her, even though she was still married.
The Foxhole, I believe it was called, a tiny little rundown shack.
Funny that you rest together behind that old building,
six feet under, as if the end met back at the beginning again.
I remember standing in the rain, and taking a rose from you,
and feeling the weight of my own mortality weigh in for the first time.
I remember learning as I grew older that you made mistakes, too,
and I remember learning to forgive your humanity.
I remember dreaming of you, and I remember waking up.