Frank Wagner: A New Poem

Five Rows Down and Three Across

by Frank Wagner

 

Five rows down and three across

Through wild high grass of the burial ground

We looked for old laid bones that could not be found.
A generation has passed since his body was laid,
Under piled dirt this skin and bone have since decayed.
A granite stone marked his earthen bed,
Now forgotten and lost in this land of the dead.
We searched in silence, not making a sound,
In this yard, even a whisper would upset the ground.
Walking through dead flowers and weeds long uncut,
To follow an old path once made by a tire rut.
Above some old worn grass we could see the stone
Covered by mold, the name faded, long left alone.
Then we found the source of our loss,
Five rows down and then three across.

 

A Note on the Poem

Regular contributor Frank Wagner of Texas wrote this poem with his grandfather Wagner in mind. Here’s what he told us about him: “My grandfather Frank Stevens Wagner, Sr., (May 3, 1902-December 23, 1968) was born before the Wright Brothers made their bicycle fly and died the night men circled the moon. That’s what I remember most about going to the funeral. He had a decent amount of property in the central Texas town called Temple, about 70 miles north of Austin. On that property he raised my father, my aunt and uncle. He ran a City Services gas station that Bonnie and Clyde tried to rob. In a story that got better with every retelling, my grandmother chased them away. That was Christmas Eve 1933. Grandpa had to close his gas station because it was sitting on the site for a new bridge over the railroad tracks. That was 1939. After that he became a postal worker and sent my dad, aunt, and uncle to college with that job. Bringing up a family during the Great Depression took its toll on his health. He suffered from diabetes and had two strokes in 1968. Just a year after he retired. He was the one who took me to my first Major League Baseball at the Astrodome.”

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