Papa, twice a widower, loved sunny rooms—
the dining room with his rocking chair
and smoking stand near the window,
and the kitchen with a white wood table
where he served me grapefruit
scraped clean into a bowl
and oatmeal—stir-about he called it—
running with Karo syrup.
Outside he sat on the low stonewall
of Saint James Church on Seventh Avenue
with Walsh, another widower
and Irishman from Clare,
both far from home.
They puffed their pipes, occasionally chuckling
about some bloke who had done a foolish thing.
I sat with them, watching the trolleys
and women pushing baby carriages
while towing toddlers behind
and learned the warmth of the sun,
the delight of a quiet chuckle,
the strength of silence.
—John Groppe (Jasper County)
This poem is from The Raid of the Grackles and Other Poems (The Iroquois River Press, 2016).
John D. Groppe, a native of New York City and a convinced Hoosier since 1958, is a professor emeritus of English at Saint Joseph’s College, Rensselaer. His The Raid of the Grackles and Other Poems has just been published by Iroquois River Press. His poetry has been published in Tipton Poetry Journal, From the Edge of the Prairie, and other journals. He thanks his colleagues in The Prairie Writers Guild for encouraging his writing. He and his wife, Rose Marie, have five children.
Poetry Prompt: A Role Model
Look back to childhood or adolescence. What older person did you enjoy spending time with? What did you do together and where did you do it? What did that person teach you through example? As you paint memorable pictures with your words, use strong verbs and nouns and apply adjectives sparingly.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.