One cold November day
after the lambs were sold
and the wheat brought in,
my grandfather settled
himself at his desk
and punched the numbers
into an electromechanical
adding machine, the gears
whirring and cachunking,
a long white ribbon pooling
on the dusty linoleum,
the office not much used
most of the year, the door
nearly always closed,
which was why I crouched
in the hall and watched
motes of dust drift and slide
through winter light,
noted how of a sudden
my grandfather leaned
forward, gathered the papery
spill, and through his bifocals
peered at the faint blue sums
and products, the subtractions,
his head held up and out
at an angle that looked like
it hurt, an angle so unlike
the easy way he later
winked at me as we sat
at the kitchen table, as with
his gnarled farmer’s hands
he tore a heel of raisin bread
into a glass of milk and served it
to me with a spoon.