I never knew my Grandpa.
We have only a faded daguerreotype.
But we kids had found out what we weren’t supposed to
Through fortuitous eavesdropping.
He had just gone into his barn one day
And done the deed with his own shotgun.
Then, when I was twenty,
My troubled old Dad said a thing
All alone (he thought) “I wish I was dead”
We were not very close,
But that was when I grieved for him the most.
Dad got his wish, within a year.
Then, an older brother, a generation apart,
A figure we so looked up to,
Suddenly so sad and lost.
His wife, at her wit’s end, slapped him hard
And said snap out of it.
I blame her not, for she knew not what to do.
These kinds of things were not talked about.
She was not angry, but desperate.
And now I, in later life,
Have been visited by this haunting heredity of the family tree.
I knew not, for the first while, what the trouble was,
But can now liken it to a dark drop of ink
Instilled into a glass of clear water,
Muddying into uniform grey.
There are things, though, that I have
That these others had not.
We know what it is about.
We may talk more openly.
We seek help and are encouraged by some.
And we can feel blameless, when they could not.