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Weeds are not supposed to grow
but by degrees
some achieve a flower, although
no one sees.

From the July Issue

ELISE HEMPEL

The Service


The minister at the podium
stammered through the dates and events
of my grandfather's life from a Xeroxed sheet
last-minute someone had handed him.

As he squinted over the typos
in his sliding glasses, tight suit of a clown,
changing decades and places, no one
could keep from snickering, rolling eyes.

And when he listed the family, misread
my aunt's last name as a first, adding
a grandson called George, I almost burst,
my father groaned and shook his head.

But when he reached the end of the paper,
began to sing of the higher place
he was going—my grandfather, who praised
numbers and facts, on Sundays went nowhere

but his own back-porch—I saw him lifting
in the checkered wing-chair, feet still propped
on the ottoman as further and further up
he soared, then slowly floated down

to a cloud at the back, his beer and cashews
fixed on a wispy sill, and he
behind the Wall Street Journal, eternally
praying for his stocks to rise.

 

Elise Hempel’s poetry has appeared in many places over the years, including Able Muse, Measure, The Evansville Review, The Midwest Quarterly, and Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry. She won the 2015 Able Muse Write Prize for Poetry, and her first full-length book was published by Able Muse Press in 2016. She also won the 2016 String Poet Prize.