The first time I saw my Grandfather
by Layla Alkheder
Twenty-four years I have known your face,Previous Honorable Mention
breathed in your scent,
walked beside you,
felt the rough
calluses that are a part of your hands as I held on.
The night that thunder roared and the storm stole our light,
you lit one candle to drown out the dark,
and I saw you for the first time.
You took my hand as I felt your touch again,
and by the end of the night I would learn the story behind the calluses I have held onto for twenty-four years.
I watched your grey eyes fade away,
traveling through your past,
your hand gently squeezed mine as you found the story you wanted to tell.
Your grey eyes were changing with every word you said,
they were a kaleidoscope of emotions and I saw every single one of your colours.
Black like the ash from a phoenix as you spoke of the war,
orange like the morning sky as you spoke of men you lost,
red like the earth that surrounds a desert storm as you spoke of
the last day your country needed your sacrifice.
But my favourite colour your eyes showed me that night was white,
white like the dove that finally learns to fly as you spoke of
meeting Grandmother for the first time.
And now I look at you differently than before.
Are those lines around your eyes from seeing what you saw?
Are those scars on your arms from choosing to keep fighting?
And your calluses, your calluses feel different now somehow,
softer, they feel softer.
As we held onto each other staring at the single flame you lit,
I watched your eyes change again... yellow,
like embers that break away from a sunset and dance around the sky,
the same embers now dancing in your eyes.
The storm let out one last roar in defiance,
and like a thousand tiny stars forcing themselves into our home
the lights appeared again,
each bulb humming as it turned the blackness into a blinding
sheet of white.
I looked up at you as your eyes turned grey again, you smiled and said...
“until the next storm.”