And You Were But a Man

by Kristina Woodhill

And you were but a man
Gone long ere I was born

The tales you told were told to me
On my Norwegian Granny’s knee
So proud of your accomplishments
Yes, she was
Her lilting accent I still hear
Her catechism rote and clear
Of your life and work
Ere I was born, ere I was ever born

And you were but a man
And your touch was that of death

And I called you my grandpa
And yearned to know your face
My father’s father
Surely, oh please, a man of truth and grace
As truly as my father was
And he was
And I was proud
And I wished to know your tale

And you were but a man
And your love was self embrace

50 years I lived and by pure chance
The ether net rejoined two halves
Two families in mutual search
Of roots and heritage and truth
One wondering from where you’d come
One wondering where you’d gone

And you were but a man
And your life bled mercury

Your cup was full, in the old West
Of family, a wife with child,
The whiskey often made you wild
And just plain mean
And you were
You woke one morn from stupored sleep
A senseless crime your drink did reap
So you ran

And you were but a man
And the lynch mob’s noose you fled

Across the border, south you came
A change in life, a change of name
You left your kids and wife with child
And took my granny for your bride
Sweet young, naïve Kristine
Hard working immigrant
And you lied
And none of this she ever knew
And so at peace she died

And you were but a man
And your seed spread to the wind

Two families now know your true names
One – willful Deception
The other – deep, deep Pain
The bottle was your only love
It stole you from us all
It left a liquid trail of strife
Ere I was born,
Ere I was ever born

And you were but a man
And as I sadly shake my head
I thank you for my life


Author's Note: Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction; sometimes one is thankful the truth doesn't come out until the innocent have died; sometimes one is thankful to be alive by the simple quirk of betrayal and another road taken. This one man left in his wake a tidal wave of changed lives.

Posted on 06/11/2006
Copyright © 2020 Kristina Woodhill

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Christel Crews on 06/11/06 at 04:49 PM

what an interesting piece! to retell a tale and with it, the pain and the heartache.. sometimes our past is so colorful it can feel like fiction..

Posted by Joan Serratelli on 06/15/06 at 10:22 AM

Very interesting read. The story told here is full of images. The repition was well used. Excellent piece of history told in verse. Great job!

Posted by Ronald A Pavellas on 06/15/06 at 03:55 PM

.. your ending was what I began to hope for as you advanced in your story. Wonderfully done. Ron

Posted by Vere Mantratriad on 06/16/06 at 01:40 AM

This is so full of joy and sorrow and life! What an amazing piece!

Posted by David Hill on 06/17/06 at 12:17 AM

You tell this in just the right tone and it is interesting to ponder the timing of truth exposed.

Posted by Alisa Js on 02/20/07 at 01:25 AM

thank you for sharing a powerfully written piece here.. aloha..;-)

Posted by Philip F De Pinto on 03/12/07 at 11:10 AM

a sad tale and wistfully told.

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