[elegy for the moment i knew my father]
i know how deep they plant the dead.
have stood sleeves rolled at the foot of a grave,
something unmarked but prepared.
when my father dies, i will pour water
on the grass. i will trim the vines that grow
around the stone. i only know the things
i know as i know them. no one else saw
my father’s cheeks as taut soil, his beard
as blackened grass. when i ran my fingers
through it as a child, i thought of brushfire,
vesuvius, some soft ash descending from the sky.
we are all frozen as family, our mouths open,
lips parted for a kiss that means either hello or goodbye.