I remember him as a child remembers:
he was my Papaw.
He rocked me to sleep in his arms, singing
“Precious memories, how they linger.”
I remember him in his uniform.
He was a conductor for the Southern Railway.
A farm boy, he had grown up learning
to love chickens and mules.
At 16 he went to work for the railroad.
Later on, he lent his two boys to the U.S. Army
and one came back wounded, and
both came back with PTSD.
Papaw grew old very quickly. Was it
the worry? Was it the odd hours?
The soot he inhaled in the railyards?
At 55, he lost his life to cancer.
I have only a picture of him to remember
him by, the grandfather who loved me,
who sang to me, who brought me candy.
His life went by like a train passing,
too fast, in the nighttime hours,
the lonely whistle fading in the wind.