How long did he live with the knot in his stomach?
Did he fret, preparing his tools,
half an hour before starting to build the crates?
Did dread mestastasize each day,
as he aligned the nail heads so he could work faster?
Did he have a premonition that his son, my grandfather, would never return
when he left to visit his cousin in Saskatchewan?
Where in the world was Saskatchewan?
Ridiculous, might he have said, to comfort himself?
To reassure himself?
To convince himself?
After all, here, in Holyoke, in 1918, they had
a big house,
where they all lived together.
Did he notice the messenger stride up the walk, telegram in hand?
Did he peer over my grandmother’s shoulder as she read it?
Or did he give her some space, knowing she would confide in him?
Sell everything, and move out West?
What is he thinking?
Did they even ask him if he wanted to go along?
Would he even have considered it, at 67?
How could he live without the grandkids?
How long before the eyes dried, after they left?
Did he accompany them to the train station?
Or did they say good-bye at the house,
suspecting they would never see each other again,
my grandmother heartbroken to leave,
the grandkids wrenched from their home,
great-grandfather loathe to see them go?
What did he do to mute the silence?
Another telegram, another town.
Same regret, same sorrow.