He sits in his Cadillac with an oxygen tank

to watch his grand-daughter

play soccer through a pane of glass


The tubes allow the passage of air

into his lean body. They are clear, small

She likes to forget they are there


Once she almost drowned in his backyard pool

When he noticed her struggle

he hit the water like a dart


He wrestled her small body from her half-cousin

He carried her and sat her down

Her lungs coughed into the grass


A cigarette dangles from his hand

in a black-and-white photo from the Korean War

He stands youthfully in front of his plane


The Christmas before his lungs stop breathing

she paints the photo for him. He does not thank her

He says, Look, there’s the cigarette in my hand


Sometimes he rises out of the Cadillac

and stands overlooking the field, holding his tank

His clothes and shoes were still on when he rescued her



Liz Grissom