Mid-October,  1992

Past sunrise, the air turns sharp
as he heads outside
inhaling sparks of wind
and thick evergreen.

Briskly, he walks toward the barn
shifting his weight
of eighty-one years to a cane.

Windows catch the morning slant
of a man thinking —

his slight figure creased
in a dream started years before
but still durable like his dock trousers
and cotton shirt.

He pushes the door open
and wipes the hood of a car
with his shadow polishing
an old idea, restore the 1923 Ford.

Its leather seat
is pungent with memory;
and he thinks back
to that ride in the country

where a farmstead boasted pines
grown from seeds carried home, sewn

in the lining of his mum’s coat
when she left Zurich;

the alpine breeze fading
to stillness in her hair,

a first born son
turning in her womb.


Note — I read an article about defining and coping with pain,  as the article said, “spinning its straw into gold”.  The premise explored how people suffering from one kind of ailment or another, use their creative imagination and ingenuity to create something positive, beautiful, functional out of the agony. This spirit to strive and persist is evident among  those who are ill and those who seek to not only exist but to live.  My Uncle was such a man. He suffered in life from a leg condition and later from arthritis. Yet still, he rose everyday with the intent to do something productive that would uplift his home, life and family. In older years he decided to pursue a dream of restoring an antique car his father had left him. Everyday, he would rise, go to the garage and begin the process of restoration despite severe pain concerning mobility and flexibility in his hands. He took great pride in this project and cherished the memory of  the homestead where he had grown up. The pines trees planted on its acreage had been grown from seeds that his mother ( on a trip to Europe) had found in the Swiss mountains. She sewed them into the lining of her coat, came back to America and planted them on the farm. The grew beautifully into a grove of tall evergreens. This poem is a tribute to my uncle and his beautiful skill and soul.

5 replies on “Johann”

Dear Craig and Sarah

I am so glad you enjoyed this poem and am deeply appreciative of your thoughtfulness and support. It means a great deal to me. Thank you both so, so much!

Take care,
my best to you both,


I cannot decide which to praise more, your poem or your dedication to / explanation about your uncle; so I will praise both equally. A heartwarming poem and the story only deepens the feeling.


Hi Michael

Thank you so , so much for your thoughtful and gracious commentary. I deeply appreciate and am glad you liked both poem and explanation of it. My uncle was an incredible man and has left many wonderful memories behind, ones to cherish and ones that also inspire.

My best,


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