In our family of jocks, Tim took to the piano
like a contact sport, romping through
show tunes and rhythm and blues,
chord-heavy numbers he played
with ease and feeling. Handsome,

broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped,
he was bull of the high school backfield,
giving tacklers the slip until enough
piled on to drive him down.
Our team had no other assets,

so down after down, the call would come
through the huddle to give the ball to Tim,
who’d shorten his neck and head for the hole.
Oftener than not, there was none,
and no one would say, enough,

give it to someone else. His helmet
may have bought him some years
before he lost his sense of smell
and the drooling began. Since then
he’s been handed tremors and dropfoot

and each morning’s scrimmage
just getting his body in motion.
But Tim still tackles stairs
and, when his face isn’t slack,
he gives us his champion grin

and jokes how he outruns shrubs
on his way to the mailbox.
At Christmas he laughs telling how
his beloved bulldog kept knocking him
down. Didn’t mean to, but he was strong

and I’m easy to tumble. Enough
about my wobblies, pour yourselves more nog.
Then Tim shuffles among shoals of gift wrap
to the piano and meanders through
blurry versions of carols and blues.

Breaking Down Familiar, Main Street Rag Publishing