I always felt guilty when my grandfather told me
That he believed in God
Because I never did.
I always believed miracles so improbable
Were never written in the dictionary of the plausible
Or the thesaurus of the believable.
In my case, I find that miracles lie in the rolling of dice or spinning of tops.
I still feel guilty when he tells me that the Lord is watching him,
Unseen but always here, because if he didn’t believe,
He’d be like me, Godless, trapped in a cage
For the unworthy, of his own design,
Molded by thick bars of doubt and facts.
Sometimes I envy the miracles he holds dear
Because he never seems to let them slip through
The cracks in his fingers
Like heavy grains of sand.
Every day is a miracle, he declares, even the day you die,
Because nature is a miracle, too, and so is the soul.
In response, I think of the nothingness
I will experience when I have my final breath,
And the lack of anything that could be considered a miracle.
But he expects one anyway.
And even if that miracle is not there, he can count
The ones he has had for himself,
And that would be a miracle in itself.
My grandmother’s recovery from cancer was a miracle, he said,
And those tears wrote him a book of memories that recounted more miracles
Than he had seen in all the years he had witnessed the days turn,
The sun rise and set, the leaves fall and swell.
But I saw her recovery as effective chemotherapy for corrupted tissue
And the skill of surgeons unable to tell a miracle from a prognosis.
But those people were miracles, too, he said,
Because they let him keep the miracle he could not love without.
He says his age is a miracle, that he should have already died,
But he has seen me grow, and that has been the only miracle
He could have ever asked for.
Maybe he will see a miracle in a decade, he says, when my college degree
Hangs from an office wall, or kids scamper through the hallways of my house,
When I fashion miracles of my very own.
Maybe with advances in medicine it will happen, I tell him.
Maybe all of that will happen by chance.
He says it would be a miracle if it did.
I find miracles to be sparse like the wind,
But to him, they’re as bountiful as trees in a forest.
Every moment alive is a miracle,
And everything he has done is a miracle,
From air force service to raising his children,
To bringing up his grandchildren, to eating hardboiled eggs he could not afford as a kid.
I wonder if it is purely by chance
That he fashions miracles with his calloused, liver-spotted hands.
He even finds these miracles buried beneath his feet,
Often in piles of discarded dreams, and he repaints them
And hands them back to whom they belong, and tells them
That these miracles are still alive, and always will be,
Because miracles cannot die like people can.
Whenever he leaves, whenever that may be,
I imagine he will compliment
The bouquets of flowers on his bed of leaves,
And say it is a miracle that they bloomed just for him.
And maybe, by then, I will be able to say it was a miracle
That he was here for long enough to tell me these things,
Even if it were by the chance that the sun rose and set
A certain way, on a single day, however many years ago,
Beyond the clouds, far away from all of this.