The Cemetery on Mother’s Day

Watching him die a little,
I wrote: a vain attempt
to catch his tears on my page.
We’d never spoken, this man
with his graying beard and wrinkles,
hands opening and closing
by his sides. I’d never ask his name
for fear I’d start caring.

I wonder if his tweed jacket smells
like pipe smoke, like my father
who would sit in our living room,
reading under cumulonimbus clouds
that never rained, and I thought
of storms from the sea and whether
they were salty like tears, like
the pathways in late May when
snow is unexpected.

I wanted to compare this man to a god
who dies a little each time
we leave, each time
we forget and fade away,
but all I could see in the slow suicide
of his mourning was myself,
was all of us who die
a little each day as we grieve
over what’s gone.

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