Home > Translation > Nineteen years ago this summer

Nineteen years ago this summer

January 13, 2011

by Andy P.

Bill

Rueben’s
wiry arms
flung dirt
into neat piles,
his shovel just
faster than mine.

Inside, Ann
sang Yesterday
over the clanks
of soapy dishes,
and I caught her
watching us at work.

Rueben glanced
from Ann to me
to Ann, his shovel
pounding away,
strong as a piston,
steady as a lullaby.

Rueben

Andy had his
round Pokel nose
up against
the window,
and my girl
was doing dishes.

I was just thankful
for the task,
something simple
to agree on
without words,

no need to say
out loud
what my hands
could always
say better.

Ann

Bill and Dad
were digging,
lifting the metal
swing set
into wet cement,

working in silence
or speaking
the brief language
of nuts and bolts,

every polite word
or approving nod
meant for me.

Andy

Dad had hair
and Grandpa
leaned on a shovel
instead of a cane,
the stroke still
a year away.

Dad’s hands
were stronger
but Grandpa’s
were wiser,
and mine were
two years old,

reaching out,
thwarted by
smudged glass.


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Andy P. is a recent graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota with a degree in vocal music education. He currently works as a Tour Actor/Director with Missoula Children’s Theatre. Andy spends his free time writing music and poetry.

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  1. January 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I love this thread of poems, each viewpoint, it keeps unfolding in layers as they work. Skillful in it’s simplicity. ‘the brief language/of nuts and bolts,’ and ‘thwarted by/smudged glass.’ Simply lovely through out. Reminds me of a small town, middle America, and it could be years ago or now.

  2. Alex Cigale
    January 13, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you for your quiet, mature, polyphonic, multigenerational, poignant translation of experience, Andy.

  3. January 14, 2011 at 6:40 am

    What a great concept, beautifully, lightly but poignantly and subtly carried out. This just made me smile and smile, thoughtfully. Terrific stuff!

    Oh my, what a rich theme this is proving to be.

  4. January 16, 2011 at 7:50 am

    This is really an amazing piece… seemingly simple and yet so rich. I begs to be read and reread several times and in differing order. Really well done.

  5. January 18, 2011 at 6:23 am

    This is wonderful work, so clear and resonant – and beautifully poised. I’ve read it over and over. Thank you.

  1. January 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm
  2. May 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm
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