In his nineties my grandfather,
dressed in a suit and tie,
would spend mornings on the veranda
of the house he had built brick by brick,
the newspaper spread before him,
prepared to confront anyone who dared
to reach through the wrought iron fence,
painted turquoise, to pick a rose.
Afternoons, still wearing his fedora,
he would stroll alone to the café for an espresso.
On one visit in my twenties,
he made me run to the store to replace
my brazen miniskirt. On my last visit, I asked
whether he had realized all his goals in life.
Nothing had been left undone, he claimed.
Only one wish lingered that I could fulfill.
He shared his grave desire with me–not
from the head of the table before his family
or during the uproar that followed dessert
the time my mother called him a dictator,
but after winning at cards on a Sunday afternoon.
He asked me whether, when the time came,
I would arrange, at his expense, for a brass band
to play at his funeral. I could honor him with a eulogy.