Drinking the bean water

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This late-night homage, after your great-grandchildren are in bed, at the hour when I would have come down to find you sitting there, asleep, and you would have rocked yourself out of the green and blue hideously plastic chair you'd bought for its talents as a catapult-- would have lowered your bones into a chair at the kitchen table to beat me at a few games of cribbage. The dishes you'd washed already, while I settled kids; the table waited, clear; but I knew with what pleasure I could not fathom you had brought each cup, each fork to its shining. We sat by the light, shuffled cards, drank tea. You carved each hand from what was given, sorting the cards you'd keep from the ones you'd throw to the kitty, praised me for counting my fifteens, and by the end skunked me less often than you had. Now, coming down to the kitchen at this hour, I am what remains of all that. If I live to the age you were I may learn to wash each plate for the body it fed; may find the ways to use what I have saved. Even now, already older than I was, I stand by the stove and taste the last sweet dregs of the bean water.

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