Time's A-Changin'

I've been staring at my grandfather's hands for the better part of an hour,
just letting my ears do the hard part,
trying to hear over the wheezing, hacking, cough.
Smoker, 63 years. The doctors said he wouldn't make it past 60 if he didn't stop smoking, but here he is, in his rocking chair, 80 years old, rocking, rocking, and drinking whiskey like rain.

His hands, yellowed and twisted, wrinkled and finite, twirls the lunt, toying with it.
He takes a deep breath rattling, and tells me about the time that he
hefted his hammer over his shoulder and walked with his lunch pail
two miles every
goddamn morning
to get to work.
His shoes were worn sole-thin, torn breeches, and his jacket was only warm in the summer.
He piled his hat atop his head,
and let the wind ride him north to the factory, where the light bulbs wouldn't build themselves.
16 hours. 16 hours and the whistle would blow like a wish.
There'd be a rush to the door, but not too fast because they all knew that in a few hours they'd be back to where they were, and dinner weren't worth coming home to, sausage and cauliflower or cabbage. No wonder he hit the sauce.
Sometimes, he'd shatter a plate just to hear something
other than monotony, which he was convinced was as much a part of his life
as the knife in her hands. Chop, chop, chop, the goddamned cabbage.

As I stare at his hands, still scared of the dark and clutching for a blankey, I feel my phone buzz. It tells me to plug it in.

-JR Simmang


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