Ritual with Grampy
by MFrost Delaney

When Grampy sat down with his pipe, the room
seemed quieter than when he wasn’t there,
the chirps of outside finches cleared the air,
and even whooshing wind sounds met their doom.

He took a fuzzy cleaner from its pack
to swipe the stem and clear it for the smoke,
then used his pocket knife to scrape and poke
around the bowl, then gently put it back.

And then he tapped and tapped the bowl until
the sticky tar bits left inside fell out.
And when he deemed it clean—without a doubt,
his Briar pipe was ready for a fill.

Tobacco came inside a metal can,
but Grampy kept some ready in a pouch.
And as I sat enthralled up on the couch,
I watched as step-two-ritual began.

He scooped a bowlful, patted down the mound,
but softly so some air could circulate,
then paused and scanned the room, as if to wait
for just the right smoke-moment to be found.

And when the time was right, he took the stem
and put it in between his teeth and lit
a match above the bowl, and sucked a bit,
again, again, and then … tobacco’s gem …

Aroma like I’d never smelled before,
a sweetness as if berries filled the air.
Then Grampy would lean back into his chair.
I’d wait until I’d finally hear him snore.

I’d take the pipe and lay it down to rest,
then snuggle in his lap and hear the birds
begin to come to life, their chatter-words
that lulled me into sleep in this safe nest.

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