At ten I brought him my new
Boy’s Life each month
to share a survival story or two.
He did the talking
mostly about the Pacific theatre.
He knew war, didn’t like or glean any sense from it.
I did more than listen to his silences.
I grew wiser within them.
I brought their lessons to my father.
On sunny days we mowed and raked his lawn.
All winter long I helped him
shovel his drive.
Today, I learned he died in bed
while his wife was baking zucchini bread
for an annual church function.
His daughters and grand-children
were far away.
No game on TV. No warning.
Just the week before, I’d held his ladder in place
while he’d nailed above his garage door
a big wooden yellow butterfly
that he’d cut, designed
and painted himself.
He called it Easter Light.
In 2015, John Michael Flynn was an English Language Fellow with the US State Department at the Far Eastern State University in Khabarovsk, Russia. He is now back home in Virginia, where he teaches English part-time at Piedmont Virginia Community College. His most recent poetry collection, Keepers Meet Questing Eyes, is available from Leaf Garden Press. You can learn more about John and his published work at www.basilrosa.com.