Steven Popa

September 5, 2023

he opens his fat mouth and says --
you'll understand better when you're my age

he's always saying stuff like that
stuff that makes me feel small and weak and young
but what can i say
you only get one Grandpa in this life
and i love the guy
though supposedly he’s had trouble shutting up
ever since grandma died or left him or whatever it was
i don't remember what he told me
just that it happened before i was born and maybe in connecticut

yes sirree when you’re my age then you’ll know --
he keeps going on and on
i wonder when he'll stop and start the prayer so we can eat
because i'm so bored right now
i'm so bored and i might as well eat

i blink a few times and look over at my sister
she looks up from her pockets and smiles as if to tell me not to worry
soon Grandpa will finish up his colon lecture --

but you've got to let them just keep pumping you full of enemas
that's the only way they can cure you of all your dirty thoughts speaking of assholes
shouldn't somebody start praying to god already? --

and then he's off on one of his pious escapades to the high mountains of religious contemplation
soaring far above the streams of wisdom and fruit of knowledge
knowing full well that getting to the mountaintop extra dry and thirsty earns you bonus points with the big man
in typical Grandpa fashion he finishes the prayer before we’ve understood a single word --

god is dead
long live god

so we munch and slobber and cough and swallow until the whole damn table is a mess
but at least it's mostly empty
i look at the fat old man as he picks at his teeth with a fork
and sudden emotion overcomes me as i cry out --

Grandpa do you really think i'll ever get to be as old as you are honestly

he leans forward in his chair and i'm not sure if it's wood or bones that are creaking
i hear hissy laughter like a girl
like my sister and i even look at her
but it's not her it’s the old coot
and he starts spitting sneezing squealing and pounding his fists on the table and stomping his feet on the floor
and it’s grotesque but he's pretty good at it
for a man of his age and mental ability
there’s something musical especially once
he belches
even masturbates
all there at the dinner table
but it feels like the circus is in town
so i start stomping and clapping and laughing
and now i’m getting louder than he is
so he slaps me across the forehead
messing my toupee
and he finally says --

you've never really listened to me before have you
but i want you to start listening
i want you to start paying attention to every word i utter
start right now
because i love you
and the answer is yes

my sister takes away the dishes
but i don't even notice her
because i'm too busy looking at Grandpa
listening as he gives me advice
and watching everything he does
even when he goes into my sister's room at night and i think
i want to be just like him when i grow up