At home he always wore
Red-and-white striped boxers.
Barefoot. Legs crossed,
blue sapphire ring on his left pinky.

Curly gray hairs sprang
off his chest—I had never seen
gray chest hairs before.
My father was never
vulnerable like that.

In public Grandfather always wore
khaki pants or shorts
and a khaki shirt crowned
with a captain’s hat—a General by day.

Red-and-green socks,
for port and starboard
hugged his feet
whenever he left his home.

I remember how slowly he ate cheese
and crackers. How he savored every bite.
His discipline, pleasure. Way of eating:
calm in the storm. His nose in a book
or the St. Petersburg Times.

After my grandfather passed
the men in my family honored him
by fishing and wearing socks
that matched his. I write books
and let pleasure guide words
from my heart. My page catches them
like slippery fish.


Maureen McDole was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, a direct descendant of carnies, carpenters and fishermen. She is the author of three books of poems, Exploring My Options (2006), Longing for the Deep End (2011), and Feast (2021).