My grandfather’s hands are smooth, hard, polished stones.
His once blue eyes now steel.
Grandmother’s hair is the moon’s ashes,
her hands are orchids, delicate as white clover
or something pressed into a secret locket

Lives nearly finished,
They are cold all the time now,
the smell of heat is thin, waning.
There are places waiting in the churchyard,
the ground of bones.
The weight of all the bones, their ballast,
makes it possible to go on from here,
makes it possible for us to live.
Their voices are quiet, but their thoughts more familiar.
The shadow of bones – long, blue, compelling,
waits for us without desire,
only the quiet, untroubled, mien of the dead.

Though my grandparents are near the end of their lives,
they are still alive. Even in the chill they create sparks.
There are foundation stones and fence boards to whitewash.
There are farmhands to feed.
The smells of wood smoke, bread, strong coffee
animate the kitchen’s beating heart.
There are few family visitors to the old farmhouse anymore.
Is it fear of the nearly dead?
As if one might be drawn closer to the end
by touching their hands, listening to their voices?
But to visit, touch and listen
is to see how far the beginning is from the bone yard,
the true length of a life.
The worth in every second, the firm weight of a minute,
the measure of years like the rings of a tree,
the measure of years in drought, and abundance,
the measure of years by days filled with victory, and loss,
the measure of it all – the grand, sublime possibility of it all.