I knew him in his later years,
amidst fears of this craggy old-man
with the pronounced limp.
I had no knock against the man,
even though he tried prodding me into it.
“Knock on my leg!” he’d harass me,
and it would embarrass me to shy away.
He’d rap his knuckles against his shin.
The sound stayed with me. Knock on wood!
Old photographs of my grandmother
and her siblings emerge and a surge of
a phantom spasm rose up my right leg.
Uncle Frank and his dog in frame,
five legs and a wooden pole.
Legends find their truth; even in family re-telling.
Frank always explored the railroad tracks
that ran behind the house. Against all warning,
one morning they found a delirious Frank pleading,
bleeding profusely from his severed appendage.
On the flatbed of the family truck he was carted,
as he started begging his father not to punish.
My great-grandfather asked one question:
“After disobeying me, will you do it again?”
A lesson learned at a great price.
The resounding of knuckles against
a wooden prosthetic was punishment enough.
(C) Walter J. Wojtanik
Poetic Asides 2017 April PAD – Day 13: Family