Sidewalks and Cracked Hands


We called my grandfather Sandy,

Sand collected in his denim Dickies’ cuffs,

Sand from the cement he mixed.


He did the hardest work with his hands

Sweating under a sun unforgiving, 

Laying each piece of flagstone slab 

To rest on a bed of cement. Hands

Crusted over– cut up from the stone edges,

Creating a mason’s handmade marvel,

On which the world could walk. 


He did the hardest work with his hands

Turning grapes from Lodi vines

Into his own velvet wine.

Staining his hands purple from juice released,

Tinting fingertips for all of harvest season,

All to bottle and keep

In the family’s name.


Dare to dream, he did,

And never, ever complained

Because he loved it. Breathed it.

Passed it to his sons. 


Then, at five, I asked my father,

“Why are your hands broken?”

“I got a boo-boo at work,” he said.

“Can me and Nicky work with you

When we grow up?”

“No, both you kids

Are going to college.”


I want to run down my own dream.

Like a single flagstone slab

Giving way to a dream sidewalk 

Built by Sandy and my father,

I’ll start one word at a time.

Published in: on December 10, 2012 at 1:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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