Some early notes following my mother’s recent passing, a first gravestone set down so that, in the words of Bernadette Miller, “we might wield words / like benedictions / and remember / blessings / within brokenness.”
Easters she would hide
neon plastic eggs for me to find,
stuffed with chocolates or
from the bathtub to
This year she scattered
fragments of herself:
her body and
her blood and
Lay it down: A winter’s spring.
Bluegill sip air softly,
Geese slice open the grey sky in silence.
Fox flesh decays hurriedly into earth.
Wildflowers refuse themselves.
Mushrooms bless the rot of their beginning.
Isn’t it remarkable
that the will to live and
the will to die run parallel
inside us, and
that morning I couldn’t breathe
waiting for key copies in the hardware store,
they felt identical and
it was impossible to say
which was louder?
Somewhere in your body
there is a hole
full of memories and
sometimes you pull one out
on purpose and
sometimes one climbs out
from your throat like
a shot of bitter whiskey in reverse.
There is no reason I woke up
today in Ohio with heartburn and
smelling of chlorine.
we swam at the neighborhood pool last night
in Myrtle Beach before
cracking open fresh Carolina crab we caught
with string and raw chicken and drowned
in melted butter at the kitchen table, soaking
up Fresca and cool, thin, conditioned air
from our salt-marsh hair to our sandy heels.
I didn’t tell you that I like crab now,
and overripe tomatoes, and burnt toast, and
all the things that I, unconvinced, watched you eat,
my whole life.
(Leaves are righteous and trees are sainted)
After an indigo sleep,
rigid limbs, lung-less breath,
in sepulchral linens mantled
you find yourself among new neighbors: Giants
and saplings. Seasons pass in a day.
Supple branches offer you pear-memories,
fleshy, juicy down the wrist, sandy on the tongue.
Here are all the things you loved—
Laid out before you in the sun:
rebirthed, undead, blooming, swollen with song,
flesh returned to bone in self-preservation
of the things you loved.
Thick soil underfoot keeps you
buoyant; the landscape
asks nothing of you, there is
only light, only air between you and this
wild garden of things you love.