Sledgehammer

The Art of Leadership;
Principles of War;
The Dynamics of Industrial Democracy;
The Communist Manifesto.

Human Nature and Management;
Management and Controlling Employee Performance;
Death of a Salesman.

Writing and Thinking;
101 Famous Poems;

Don Quixote.
The Call of the Wild
.

Before they were taken down and put into boxes,
I remember looking up at them,
my grandfather’s books.
Long after he had died,
they lined the walls of a room he could no longer occupy,
his desk left like a sanctuary for a curious little girl who
loved to climb shelves and read spines,
like my grandfather read minds,
and other things, too.
Things like shoes and hats and business cards.
Statuses worn like flags on caskets;
they crumbled over time,
softening in the peat of apathy, and once gone,
then what?

Then what?
Does it fracture the mind, that leaving?
The day you are no longer feared and respected,
but become what you were rocketing toward all along,
through all the wars and knowing,
through all the management positions and
mistresses and scotch whiskeys and reading all the right literature
and ensuring that your family is respectable,
always neat and trimmed and starched and smiling in every photo;
through all the dinners-at-exactly-sixes:
To still become old.
To have them look at you one day and all their fear and respect is gone,
like so much status.

Maybe it destroys a man.
Maybe there is no madness awaiting me at the end of my life.
A violent, embarrassing end
to an otherwise stellar career.

Or maybe my life is a tunnel.
And at one end of it, my grandfather with a sledgehammer.
He will hit me with it and I will fracture apart into a million pieces.
I will scatter and something else will take my place.
It will wear my body like an ill-fitting suit,
always demanding the car keys, it will hurt you to get them and
when you look up at it, tearful and pleading,
it will look back at you with nothing but an utter and implacable
lack.

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