only a handful each

tossed down onto the coffin.

I did my small part to help

send him on his way.


I watched my dad watch his mother,

she not wanting to leave the grave,

leave the man she’d loved for fifty years.


Later, when she could talk about him without crying,

she told me, “Guard your memories of him.

Guard every one.”


I remember he smoked cigars,

liked painting by number,

drank ginger ale with a scoop of ice cream,

raked up weeds and dead fish at the edge of the lake,


and I remember my handful of earth,

the soil clinging around my fingernails,

and my grandma’s tears.



Published in Cannons Mouth, Birmingham