We did not remove our shoes. My father followed
a dirty trail from the doorway to the love seat
where Grandpa sat and smoked, a little glass
of milk perched on the table at his side.
Above him, fruit flies stuck to a strip of tape
like small black seeds. My father moved a pillow
and sat beside the man I’d only known
from blurred photos and stories.
When we hugged,
his trembling arms reached out like shepherd crooks
and pulled me down. He coughed into my ear,
apologized, and looked me in the eyes.
He stared at me, then frowned. His lips were thin,
dried peppers, wording something. Flecks of milk
clung to his beard. I pulled myself away
and asked my father where the restroom was.
He nodded toward the hall. Two figurines,
naked, kneeled atop the toilet tank.
The room stank of hay, damp—I didn’t touch
the humid toilet handle.
When I returned,
they didn’t notice. Keeping back, I watched
my father pull a comb through his father’s hair,
starting at the ends and working up.