Would you recognize a great man if time deceived you?
Bert is America
Bert is forgotten
Bert’s wife Ann brought our boys a tray of brownies the day we moved onto the cul-de-sac
Who does that anymore?
A thin, sinewy pillar
chin up, shoulders back
but with a manner of able grace and a twinkle of unwary forebearance
Bert was an artillery colonel but he wouldn’t have you know unless you pry
There are those for whom time yields,
and if you see it, you’ve seen too much
This word, “America,” gets thrown around a lot, though its meaning is actually fragmented
and a fragmented meaning can’t be grasped intuitively
When Ann gets sick Burt reports for visiting hours in ironed slacks and collared shirt
Dignity is a lost art
Every few months now an ambulance takes Ann away while we’re all out
Seasons change, life goes on
Ann rotates between facilities with the utmost christianity
between doctors and blood tests
but none can say what’s really wrong
Funny how they can see inside your cells but cannot see a person
a neighbor, a fellow
Across the street, Bert works afternoons on an old car, ploddingly
and suffers these curious times without all the desperate questions that plague me in my travails
If we shirk our potential must we ignore the man who meets it?
Is the terminus of fellow feeling in a democracy a windowless room?
Bert keeps up a solemn resistance.