the madrigal, volume ii
My Grandfather's Rugged Edition of Les Miserables
by matthew miller
He curls his stethoscope's black cords
along the book's splitting spine.
Holy scripture, the lone pages
more finger-smudged and careworn.
He pulls surgical tape from his bag,
measures down the breaking line
and like Grandma's embroidering,
he stitches up what was torn.
Early mornings, he's read Romans
and the Gazette's first two folds.
Opening the newly bandaged
cover, he sees his name scrawled
in the upper right hand corner,
licks his forefinger and scrolls
lines of criminal compassion;
reminding him to what he's called.
My son handcrafted a bird nest,
newspaper shredded and glued
to a dark blue canvas. It masks
the novels of my top shelf.
Grandpa's favorite cornerstones
the collection, still unmoved
since I slipped it from his Alzheimer's
ward, just to remind myself
of how he lived. When I dust, frayed
strings of its unweaving cover
snag in the feathers. Moving my
son’s minute-made art, I hold
his old book. Feel its thousand page weight,
like hymns sung at grandfather’s
funeral. His gift, like silver
candlesticks, light to behold.
Matthew Miller teaches social studies, swings tennis rackets, and writes poetry - all hoping to create home. He and his wife live beside a dilapidating orchard in Indiana, where he tries to shape dead trees into playhouses for his four boys. His poetry has been featured in Whale Road Review, River Mouth Review, Club Plum Journal and Ekstasis Magazine.