Spring 1986, Volume 3

Sherwin W. Howard
The Songs that Uncle Harold Sang

Reunion picnics, Fourths of July
The nights we slept at the old Girls' Camp
Uncle Harold always sang
His voice half what it young had been
Quavered a "Road to Mandalay"
Or zoomed his "Big Bass Viol"
While grown-ups hushed their laughing talk
And children played obscure and warm
Small, grey bald and bent
Bib overalls clean starched
Gold frame glasses tugging ears and nose
Into what only could be an uncle's face
He worked the Garland factory
Squeezing dark brown sorghum
From fat white sugar beets
His way was scolding gruff
Yet give him a piano and Mary to play
The rough would smoothing rise
In "Danny Boy" or "Friend of Mine"
Until each listener's eyes would shine
Not hearing, but feeling the family tone
Years have scattered notes and men
I see my cousins rarely now
Fond family gathering art has passed
Replaced by volumed rock and video
With scribbled cards at Christmas time
Still, when warm evening windows wide
Allow faint summering sounds inside
As shadowed light turns grey
I hear soft children shouts
And young obscurity returns
Play down a neighbor's lawn
My child soul will always hear
The songs that Uncle Harold sang