First Time I Saw Grandpa Shirtless

By Grey Held

It was at the retirement center's indoor pool.
The scar from his heart
surgery cut a raw path
from belly to chest hair, twisted and sparse.
His skin was flecked with a hundred
dark constellations. There were
pouches under his eyes
and his wedding ring constricted
his finger into a sausage.
Hey partner, he said,
and bent down to kiss me,
offering his fruitful approval
like a silver dollar, like a pack of gum.
Mist huddled in the ceiling coffers.
The wall of glass tile blocks
distorted the courtyard trees
into specters. I was afraid of the old
men's laughter that trailed into wheezing fits,
afraid even of the sound
of their flip-flops slapping.