A Final Bond
by Richard Aston
This is about Great Uncle Bill,
The first of us born in Wilkes-Barre on the Brewery Hill.
Sophisticated, he knew how to drink
And also how to think
On either side of a good argument,
To clarify an issue or intent
By, on the whole, a non-emotional,
Well-thought-out, and well-structured rationale.
Bill was taught how to use a mason’s trowel,
But fortunately also went to school
And, in a way, was more American
From influences of Harry Hillman
Academy, to which he had been sent
By congressman Palmer’s wife, whom the miners can’t
Over-thank for the way she helped their sons
By giving them their well-deserved stipends.
In a team of players numbering ten,
Bill was the one who beat the champion-
Of-the-world in a friendly game of chess,
Although he could not call himself the best
Because the sides were numbered ten to one,
Uneven sides, however one reckons.
Still, having beat the champion-of-the-world
Became a sort of trophy that he held,
Something that I never heard him mention,
In silence borne of wisdom and intention.
Bill searched for days to find the proper word,
Written but destined to be little heard.
Anyway, he liked to write poetry
To record his friends’ biographies,
Or portraits of some different aspect
Of how they would think, argue, look, or act,
Or remind him of his own philosophy,
Or how things might go better differently.
But, as they went, he must have been too shy
To show his verse, or was it just that I
Was not within the circle that he knew
Found pleasure in the portraits that he drew?
Well, it seems the verse has all been burnt
Except for one that might have been if it weren’t
On that yellow pad that someone gave to me
Containing Uncle Bill’s finalities.
On his last Easter, he composed the poem
On being over eighty and still young.
Written in the contrail of this talent,
Set down in pencil, this is how it went:
“Easter is for youth to sing
In colors bright and hearts so light
Of new life risen from the winter’s frost
Made vigorous by summer’s sun.
“The little girls go tripping past
So young and fresh with cheerfulness,
Graceful, proud in crinoline and lace,
Veils of brilliant hue
And eyes that sparkle
Like the sunshine dancing in the dew,
“And bonnets pert on waves of silken curls
And life, like budding blooms
Smiling on a world awakening
From the winter’s dreary gloom,
“Smiles that send rays of cheer
That offer hope to tired souls
And say that summer wonderland is here,
“Welcome to the Easter sun!
Mankind will be forever young
So long as songs of youth are sung!”
Great Uncle Bill was my teacher-mentor.
Just ten, I lived with him, after
The death of Mother.
Copyright © 2019 by Richard Aston.