He used to played guitar
with other grandfathers
who had been young men
in dance halls in the 40s
before and after the war.
The doctors had said to keep playing!
It will keep you alive.
The grandfathers played
up and down the cul de sac,
in each and every garage,
before memory failed and arteries clogged.
There were nine of these part-time mariachis
in a row of strings and brass, a retirement band.
Soon there was seven, then five, then three
and now just him playing solo
on this side of the heaven’s divide.
The doctors told him to make new friends
but by that time the dead were living with him,
And the living were just as dead
And the house was filled
with people who were not there.
He rocks back and forth now
in the living room rocking chair
Pedro Infante and Mariachi Vargas CDs
Crooning, blowing, strumming their tunes.
They are there with him, welcoming him.
He has forgotten how to play guitar now.
His eyes close and his hands raise up
from the arm rests,
hit the dead air around him
he fingers chord progressions and he smiles.
He remembers just this.
Asks of whomever is there
I like those songs you are playing
—did I ever know how to play?
Copyright © 2012 by Margaret Elysia Garcia