Artwork by R. Hurt

When my grandpa grew old
he took to nodding off.
He'd be sitting there, talking,
as strong as he ever was,
and then he'd just nod off,
slipping out of the upright world.
At first I was sad—
heartbroken, actually— at the
waning of the great.
My parents shook their heads
and wondered what to do.
Then I realized Grandpa
only nodded when facing
the photo of my grandma,
and that this was not nodding
but nutation, Grandpa's axis
bobbed in gentle, rhythmic homage
to the profound gravity
of his now dark mate,
the dip of closing lids
redirecting vision to she who'd
marked his days. After that,
I smiled at each nod,
my only concern idle thoughts
of which was moon
and which the earth
in their stately, loving orbit
or if they even cared.

Copyright © 2006, Greg Beatty

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC/Caltech)

Greg Beatty has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa, where he wrote a dissertation on serial killer novels. He attended Clarion West 2000, and any rumors you've heard about his time there are, unfortunately, probably true. Greg writes everything from science fiction poetry (winning a Rhysling last year) to reviews of books that don't exist. When he's not writing, Greg teaches for the University of Phoenix Online. Greg recently got married.