One my grandpa used to swim through
on so many boozy evenings
when the rockabilly band played.
When Patsy Cline crooned
for locals. When as a teenager
Patsy stepped down from the stage
to find my grandpa’s helping hand
and in the back, alone,
my grandma’s jealous gaze
could split the whole place in two.
I walked those freshly slickened
dance floors full of ghosts. Full of sweat
and tears and full of love. Mostly
a past full of the kind of music
that moves through the world briefly.
Mostly the kind of love bars offer to
perfect strangers, shuffling their
sadness round and round for hours
while out in the world the stars
are tarping their dark hands across
the Shenandoah River. I don’t know
if my grandpa lost more of his life
in this rusty old pale of a place,
or if he somehow managed to
gather pocketsful of small and holy
moments, nights of joyous giving in.
Life goes this way. Goes that way.
Patsy Cline will die in a plane crash
coming back from Kansas City
just at the turning point of thirty,
while my grandpa will lay cement
for years, drink and drink and drink,
pretending his life against what Patsy
learned in one messy instant outside
Nashville. When it’s your time to go,
she said, well, it’s just your time.