Frank was a wire hanger of a man,
a backrow Baptist deacon
who always wore a hat
and a white-faced Timex.
He knew the history
of that place -
the land and her people,
their dreams and sins.
He roughnecked when the oil
boomed rich and black.
There was a movie house
and three doctors in town,
plus a school to be proud of.
A bonafide Canaan.
Frank stayed when the oil slowed,
days of the exodus -
why would I leave home?
He had the habit of sittin' 'til bedtime,
visiting on his porch or maybe a neighbor's.
They'd talk, laugh, eat pie and drink chicory coffee,
When the sun finally gave up he'd rise and always say
Thelma, we've got to go to bed so these folks can go home.
One Sunday morning, early in my tenure,
a baby wailed during my entire sermon.
The temptation was to buckle, but I stayed.
Frank shook my young hand after the service,
You did good, preacher. I figured if you couldn't outtalk
that baby, then maybe we called the wrong man.
Frank spent his last days in a nursing home.
I'd go visit, take him a vanilla shake,
and we'd sit and listen until it was time for me to go.