Chance Meeting at the Cemetery


Memorial Day, and I plant
yellow and white chrysanthemums.
Driving by the other family plot
I see Fred, my cousin once removed,
Fertilizing. The grass is the main thing,
he says. We visit. It’s cloudy, cold, windy,
the usual for Memorial Day,
but I hang around.
I eat Fred up with my eyes:
His long stride, his high bony shoulders,
his small beaked nose, the hands
that slant from the third knuckle,
the way the hair grows at his nape,
its pattern of grayness,
the shortness of his neck,
the way his cheek melts into it:
genetic nudging that revivify
my grandfather, uncles,
my father …

I make a grisly remark and Fred laughs:
it’s the family humor.
He’s eighty, I think, slim, looks healthy,
but has to rest after fertilizing,
or lifting the fertilizer into the trunk.
Still I linger. What else can we talk about?
When he’s gone, they’ll all be gone;
but for now, I have in my sight
that way of turning,
that tilt of head, that hat.

Grace Dion has an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Washington and has published poems and stories in various journals.


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