I finally showed up a full week
after my father was ‘laid to rest,’ darkening
my sister’s door with flowerless hands.
She had to work, and could I find the mill creek
that divided the new cemetery plots
from the old? Seeing my eyes so easily
erased, she acceded a rough map,
marking ‘here’ with an ‘oh!’ of pain in the slots
of her face. After hours of request
in place and place, halted before every fresh
or spic-and-span bouquet, I found it
at last on a hillside’s high crest, the freshest
mound of earth in a newly cleared
atrium among the woods. Unduly unsigned,
anonymous, unencumbered by
even the simplest metal badge, it appeared
to be explicitly by default
of any outward mark. There he wallows, on
those accumulated sheets of earth’s
primeval past, as he wallowed in the salt
of life, spending fast as he was spent.
All at once layers of spleen and hatred well;
and fall, too old to matter. And then
regret strangles my eye with streaks of scent.