Occasionally I call up a sheet
From the 1940 census. There my father
Is thirteen, the youngest of nine people
Living in his parent’s house. Doris,
His sister, is still Dora and Jack,
His sister Anne’s husband, lives there too.
All but one of the surviving children
Live together; Harry is elsewhere.
They weren’t much for black sheep
But if they had been Harry
Would have applied for the position.
In a later world where I existed
Harry was a sort of irate spirit
Spoken of but seldom seen
But he lived – somewhere and did –
Something, perhaps many things.
My inventory of facts on him is small.
Like my grandfather, he could perform
Lightning calculations. He went west
To work for a New Deal project
He had a mean streak; money
Never stayed long with him. Sometimes
When my father sang he’d remember
That the song was one Harry taught him.