by Steve Gaines

in the last moments of the millennium
depending of course on how
you count the beginning or end millennium
at the end of December
early on the eighteenth
the year two thousand just about gone
along about three of the A.M.
in New Jersey
grand child number twelve
just one shy of the thirteenth number
as lucky as any other number as numbers go
shows up in the world
after keeping his mother busy in the process
for the better part of twenty-four hours
a boy with copious and dark hair makes his appearance
a long awaited debut
but I suppose about as long as most baby waitings go

and here in the far mid west
in Nebraska under the winter’s snow
gathered for the Holidays
six of his predecessors frolic in the ancestral home
cousins yet to meet and know
three grand daughters and three grand sons
mostly many years his senior
come to see grand ma and grand pa
come to collect this year’s bounty
by way of presents and checks
turkey dinners and sledding forays

a busy time of the year made seriously busier
not to mention nosier
in this rare coming together
two brothers and one sister from Kansas
one brother and two sisters from New Mexico
along with their Dads and Moms
and one smiling great grand mother in her quiet corner
swelling the number of bodies in the old homestead
almost beyond the capability to house them
old rooms long ago let go to seed
left in the detritus of the twenty years ago
when their occupants started moving out
to begin collecting their own history and clutter

this frigid December month bodes well
as does the lucky number twelve suddenly seem to shine
making room for the next number
lucky thirteen! and whoever it may be that fills that space

but here is a brand new dark
haired young boy from New Jersey
a beaming bright gift to his mother
just on the far side of her own
thirtieth-something birthday
currently looking very much
like his father’s old baby pictures
but perhaps with his mother’s eyes…
or something in the mix of genes
the combination of two early
twenty-first century parents
sure to look only like himself somewhere
far down the road to who knows
traveling to or from wherever
being as he is a sort of expatriate from the plains
or from the mountains
late places from which his parents have departed
but places he has never seen on his own

where is he headed I wonder
well begun and pushing to catch up I wonder
will he “return” some distant day
as the east coast sophisticate?
coming back to where he never really was
unless you count his mother’s
carrying him here and there in his
incipient beginnings
one of his many trips across the country in utero

will he acquire “foreign accents”
and strange ideas of the curious mid
surprised to discover we actually speak
the same language and share the
same allegiances
to politicians and football teams

what can be said at the moment is simply
that he shares a geographical
separation with many of his cousins
that is being far flung from “home”
like teenagers from the northwest…
Seattle types
and southwestern desert dwellers from Albuquerque
all the places to attract grand parents on long and frequent quests
journeys of discovery every year or so
…even to a near by Kansas City
and it’s not insignificant sights and
baseball games and soccer
recitals and shopping trips
or Onawa, Iowa and the farm every fall
all places to marvel in the local highlights
luxuriating in the weather and tourist opportunities
…the sea shore
…the mountains and desert
…the loess hills along the Missouri
…the odd Broadway production or the Jersey shore
places where the proud and
opportunistic old folks can come down
whether by plane or mini van
as we are sent around the country
by AAA and their good advice
glad to take in the several diverse families living in all those
different places
and to marvel at how the children
have grown and become quite so

so here is this brand new Christopher Anton
a new New Jerseyite
at the beginning of a the new millennium
following in the grand tradition
soon to be descended upon
by his paternal grand parents
full of oohs and aahs
and plans to explore the sites and
sounds of New York city and points

hoping that he stays there at some length
to give us good reason to return
and hoping at the same time he comes back
to the comfortable climes of Nebraska or Colorado
or just somewhere nearer on the local map
where the trips will be shorter
though the opportunities perhaps less diverse

and all the while I am reminded how much easier it is
to be the grand father
and in the end standing at the front door waving goodbye
having relished the noise and crowded bustle
but looking forward to a moment’s peace and quiet

for a week or two

then to start all over again
planning the next trip
and looking forward to renewing
the noise
and confusion

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