“Daily Record, 1943-1993” by Colleen Michaels

First farm boy then factory worker,
my grandfather kept a journal.
His shift sleeves cuffed over biceps,
his one small glass of Carling Black Label
rinsed in the kitchen sink each night,
the word diary not in a man’s vocabulary.

But every day, he made record
in his ruled notebooks, the year in gold
foil on each spine, the covers colored
like car interiors -burgundy, gray, and black

Each Christmas my grandmother would
pick out a new one at the drugstore.
$1.99, then $2.50, and then $3.99.
He placed a check for her under the tabletop tree
first, $5.00, then $15.00, finally $25.00.
“For Terry – Hair Permanent” he’d write in the memo line.

Both gifts recorded in the current year’s pages.
My grandfather, a rivet maker for jeans at “The Buckle,”
was a list maker, a sorter of nails and rubber bands in jelly jars,
a keeper of weather and baseball scores.

From him I know how a man felt,
felt about bowling (two strings every Tuesday),
the cost of cigars (too much but worth it),
the shooting of Kennedy (first John then Bobby),
the polio of his only child (bus fare and leg braces),
the birth of two grandchildren (flowers bought each time).

One entry each in impeccable block print,
what you’d expect more from an architect,
a man under commission
to build something big.

“Daily Record 1943-1993”  originally appeared in the online journal, The Museum of Americana.

Colleen MichaelsColleen Michaels’ poems have been made into installations on shower curtains, bar coasters, and the stairs to Crane Beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Her most recent poetry installation, Line Break, with sculptor Lillian Harden, was featured at the  2014 Massachusetts Poetry Festival. Her work has been published in Barrelhouse, The Paterson Literary Review, Mom Egg Review, Roar, Stoneboat, Meat for Tea, Hawai’i Review and others. She directs the Writing Studio at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts, where she hosts The Improbable Places Poetry Tour bringing poetry to unlikely places like tattoo parlors, laundromats, and swimming pools. Yes, in the swimming pool.