Bergmanesque Yahrzeit*

By Gerard Sarnat

Grandson Simon buries borrowed keys in his toy chest
to get one of my damselfly daughters’ attention,
but she’s glued to the tube’s Sunday news shows
then the beginning of one of Woody’s homages
to Ingmar’s Wild Strawberries story
about old age’s battle between integrity and despair.
Middle son finds them, straps both nephews
and Grams into their car seats …
My wife tiptoes to the bedside with a bowl
of blackberries she bled for picking
from the backyard’s thorny vines,
then whispers, “Dear, it’s about time …”
Don’t say with sadness that Dad is no more,
say with gratitude that he was and is ever-present,
which consoling mantra Mom’s hearing aids can’t
as she lurches from her wheelchair
while Ell’s stroller careens toward Poppa’s coffin —
a collage of fetal-formed faces as I die?
Lying down, smelling the grass and counting insects,
pissed by the whirring of neighboring graves’
plastic smiley-faced rainbow windmills,
fire ants brushed off; my grandkids take turns
spinning the emoji doohickeys before converging
on the ground to gather me in.
The 6-year-old says, “Coach, I know we can’t bring him
back to life, but maybe we make Great-grandpa feel better.”

*Anniversary of the death of a Jewish parent, sibling, child, or spouse.

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