grieving in pencil
When he collapsed in my arms last Tuesday afternoon, I didn't realize
the sadness an 18-year-old boy could carry. My father would have known,
of course, witnessing the hard decline of his own mother more than 50 years ago,
and still unable, on the last walk we took along the river, to hold back tears.
I wonder, sometimes, if the gardens he grew in the interim between her death
and his were a way of filling in her harrowing departure and the vacancy it left,
if the earth somewhere deep below and despite appearances, remained terminally fallow.
The blooms of the dogwood by his front door felt especially vivid when I left, and now
this, down to the scar and everything, my stepson grieving in pencil, and my father's eyes,
unblinking, looking back as if they'll never let go.