My grandfather wore jeans almost every day.
Dungarees, overalls. He laid bricks on top
of bricks through concrete days of work.
"Jeans are honest. This is what my grandfather wore," he said.
"They remember the weight of the cotton he picked.
Carry the memory of each boll and bale."
He told me his grandfather's stories,
described how red blood becomes brown stains on blue
jeans. Remembered lashes and the feel of each raised scar.
My eight-year-old hands fingered the frayed edges
that didn't unravel. I saw the lye wash
each week's dirt and weaken the weave.
My grandfather taught his sons to calculate
and measure. Cement and sand, rock and water.
The right ratios for strength. The right balance for survival.
Deep into this life, I consider the fabric of those men,
their days of blood and pain. Nights of family and honor.
Cotton and cement binding us across generations.
Each morning I look in the mirror and straighten
my tie. Practice the silk lies I tell myself. Pretend that someday
I'll be that strong. Somehow I'll be that good.