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“Grandfather”

by Leroy Quintana

Grandfather, who planted corn every year
walked to Wyoming to herd sheep
so many times he said he couldn't remember
how many

I have been told that in his youth
it took two men to wrestle him off his feet

As an old man
shouldered railroad ties, planted them as posts
that time he built a fence

Would cure his ailments with oshá, corn plasters
or yerba buena or once or twice
called in an old sobador

One day shuddered
when he saw a young boy
walking barefooted on the gravel road
that ran in front of his house

told me he didn't have shoes when he was a boy
because his parents could not afford any;
that he cut his feet on the rocks
when he walked the hills
looking for stray lambs;
said it hurt to have to see people
so poor they had no shoes

Many years later, in a V.A. hospital
said he could hear the saw
cutting through the bone
when his leg was amputated

Never said anything
about the other leg
after it had to be severed

sat in his wheelchair
looking over that small piece of land
so full of weeds and strange memories
walking to Wyoming his feet hurting
looking for a stray lamb without a pair of shoes
planting corn and walking
through the rows in summer
the stalks so high
that once grew taller than he

~ ~ ~ ~

Poet Leroy Quintana grew up in New Mexico. He teaches English at San Diego Mesa College.