This poem appears in the Summer 2021 issue of Modern Age. To subscribe, click here.

Woodrow Griggs
15 Oct 1916 – 8 July 1917
—marker in Hite Cemetery, Randolph Co., Arkansas

An early miscarriage, then two stillbirths—
But this one lived, a tussling boy quick at
The teat. They called him for the President
(A Democrat this time, who knew the South).
Precocious was a word they never used,
But judged him quicker than a scalded cat,
For he was that and some. He strained to talk
Before he turned to crawl—took all things in.
Pleased with himself (and them), he’d possum-grin
And tap his fists in telegraphic glee—
Until first summer’s fever came, broke off
All games for good, consigning him within
An oval frame above his parents’ bed.
There we, small nephews, nieces, older than
He grew to be, slipped in to puzzle at
Our mothers’ brother’s lacey cap and gown.