In His Eightieth Year

In His Eightieth Year

My father told me that, "Sure," they had running water
when he was a kid. His mother would hand one of her boys
a bucket and say, "Run down to the creek."

When the neighbor's wife ran away,
he hired my grandmother to do his washing
and with the money she bought a washing machine
with a gas engine. Dad said the engine
was like a lawnmower's, but his eyes got
that far away look in them,
as though he knew I wouldn't understand.

How much water did he and his brothers have to run for
to fill that thumping, smoking washer?

At eighty, where have his brothers gone,
and where, those strong legs
that could run back and forth to the creek all day?


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