The Common Good

The Wheel

I stepped down from the train,

Saw you there, old man, bent

Next to the Tudor station, smiling

And waving to me over the steering wheel.

Your aged blue eyes

Saw us through the maze of roads


Walled by high corn and close trees, roads

Which branch away from the train 

Station to the cottage, to your wife’s eyes

And worn wrinkled skin.  Her back bent

Over the low table.  You turn the wheel

And press the horn, she’s smiling,


Face tilted up to the window.  I smiled

As we chose sticks to sturdy our walk on dirt roads

That circle your farm … the windmill’s wheel

Spinning in the moving air, the train’s

Cry; muted by distance and wind-bent

Corn. Shaded by silk, its small yellow eyes.


I could see in your eyes

The smiling

Knowledge that your days are bent 

Around time, its roads

Winding and short, brief as the call of the train,

Disappearing with the double-drum beat of its wheels.


A bird perched on the tractor wheel

Its tiny black eyes

Alert and trained

To see the smiling 

Orange cat.  Wings spread over the road

In beating flight.  I’m bent


On being like you in age, bent 

On sitting visitors beside the wheel,

Driving them to strawberry sandwiches and my roads

To support their journey.  Meeting eyes.

I wish to be smiling 

As I collect them at the train.


Your brows are bent now, and in your eyes

Images spin like a wheel.  You’re smiling 

Out at the roads, not hearing the cry of the train.


Jennifer Grant is the author of two books, Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting My Daughter andMOMumental: Adventures in the Messy Art of Raising a Family. Find her online at or follow her on Twitter @JenniferCGrant.

Photo series: "Gloaming Stroll 1-3," by Cathleen Falsani for Sojourners, 2012. All rights reserved.

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