Poem: The Storytellers of the Sagging Steps
By: LeeEl Yehezkel
An old house, a bad paint job,
and three old men in the doorway to match;
George, Joseph, and Eli.
Around them, a children’s soccer game is in motion,
and their joking threats escape into the air.
The old men exchange stories
of old times, bad times, good times
Times when things were not better, but shinier and brighter
like a new penny
When people appreciated the little things.
and words weren’t thrown out into the streets
for old men to collect and clean and cherish
and then divvy out again like peanuts.
George tells of a young boy that saved his
family during the Depression;
in the absence of a father,
he became a self-taught mechanic
and learned to read.
Years later, he is a retired engineer.
Joseph shares a story of a young,
hotheaded man that went off to college
and forgot all about his mother.
A new adult, he didn’t need anyone to nag
him to do the laundry;
he didn’t need anyone to be grateful for.
All he needed was his ‘serious’ girlfriend,
and the cold, logical certainty of physics,
and that was all he wanted.
Until he and his girlfriend broke up
and he ran to his mother’s warm, waiting arms.
Eli just listens and sighs
because all of his words have been wasted
on ears that don’t listen,
ambitious mothers and frowning teachers,
family that cares more about the will than the grandfather,
people who have decided what you’re going to say
before you have even decided to say it.
Words fluttering in the breeze,
overwhelmed by the pointless ones of others
who don’t appreciate the art of storytelling.
There they sit in front of the house while the children play soccer
Storytellers of the Sagging Steps, worn down with the weight of years
The kids kick around the soccer ball and
splash in the puddles,
glorying in the cool clarity of it all and
yelling at each other
words they won’t recall in the next five minutes.
The ground is slippery and the smell of water is in the air.
Still the old men share their experiences;
no one listens
and the stories are lost to the world.