wrong directions.

We would always see him when
we went to The Convenient Mart.
He would give me & my sister
the spare change he found in
the vending machines.

This old man became a
foster grandfather to us.
He was always excited to see us,
never saying a harsh word,
just giving us quarters & dimes.

He lived at The Nursing Home
next door.
He was the only resident
trusted to go outside.

Years later, when I was
a teenager, I worked at
The Convenient Mart.

The old man didn’t recognize me
& I couldn’t explain to him
who I was.

He was too far gone—
a ghostly shell,
a return-to-sender letter from those
distant regions of lost memory that
cause the body to run on
automatic pilot;
a busted compass;
a broken wind-up toy
w/ dementia.

The old man grooving a
nearly forgotten path into
the sidewalk’s concrete:
back & forth, all day, in front
of the store.

Picking up the cigarette butts
on the pavement &
chewing the tobacco
left in them.