A Milkshake Brings Advice - Poem by Donal Mahoney
I bring a milkshake every other week
to an old man in a nursing home,
a refugee from Germany who paid me
50 cents to cut his grass when I was
a kid in Chicago after WWII.
I couldn’t understand him then
and I can’t understand him now
but 50 cents was big money
in 1950,10 candy bars,
10 popsicles or maybe 5 Cokes.
Or I could mix and match and trade
Pete the Collector for a baseball card.
Now my old neighbor sits in bed
and swigs his milkshake as I tell him
that I drove by his house the other day
and the new owners have planted
roses and lilies everywhere.
Every color imaginable.
A botanical garden in bloom.
He blinks at me, smiles
and takes a final swig.
Because of the language problem
we never talk about anything
except the house he will never
see again and then marvel that
he will turn 100 soon, quite a feat.
He smiles at that as well.
But he doesn’t smile when I get up
to leave and offers me advice
in the thunder of his accent:
“Someone had better stop ISIS now.
When I was a kid in Berlin, no one
stopped Hitler the bastard then.'
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