Cross of Pain

I never saw his tears, my grandfather.
It wasn't done where he came from.
West Yorkshire men would only turn away.

There was no place for the sudden
stinging in one's eyes, the shudder
in the chest, tightening at the throat.

We were clawing boulders from
the hillside with a mattock and
a crowbar when he faltered,

stodd a moment with the crowbar
in his hand, his hair under his hat
ringed with sweat, his breath a quickened gasp.

That night I heard his footsteps
in another room and from the 
doorway glimpsed him pacing,

each turning in the moonlight
forced a breath, a stiffness
to his spine. Even in aloneness

he would not bow to pain,
but carried it upon his shoulders
like a cross,

his private Via Dolorosa,
counted by the minutes
and the hours of his steps.

2 thoughts on “Cross of Pain

  1. Such a beautiful look at something one could see as tragic-the inability to show/express sadness. My father and grandfather were both like this, and their strength in hard times always felt like a gift to me, even if it was hard for them. It felt like they held it all, so I could go on.


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