Blessed with Trump and Wild

or crap, but no less blessed,
my grandpas, when at last retired,

thumped the table card over card
at nickel-a-trick pinochle and
partners canasta, the same decks
pounded, bent, and shuffled soft

as their flannel shirts. As a boy,

they often held me on their laps,
their arms about me, so I could see
their hoards. Their buckles poked
and I fiddled with their braces.
I studied their hewn and stubbled
faces and watched them push
thick figures onto envelope backs
from a pencil nub, then rub them out
for a proper score. I had no words

for how it felt to sit so intimate with
kings, their hearts, their diamonds
fairly dripping through their knuckles
when they dealt. They’d handled
teams of horses in their time and
tilled a thousand acres roll on roll,

and raised whole families out of black
Wisconsin dirt, and on that map
I was a speck. A silt fault in the river.

I had no words for how I felt, nor
will I ever, for in that flicker naught
was said that couldn’t be said with
a click of a tongue or a snap of a
card or a snicker. Naught could be
bargained, either. Too soon, one
went out. And then, to the man, their
good hands folded and folded forever.