At the cemetery with my mother


We used to walk like this with Grandma,

over gravel paths and down narrow roads

laughing and looking at birds. And then,

we sat on the swing and drank iced tea,

while Grandpa smoked his cigar nearby.

Their house was full of brown carpet

rough and familiar like the hands

that built the birdhouses and the swing

in the backyard. The bathroom tile

was laid like daisies, white and yellow;

it smelled of strong powder

that Grandma kept under the counter,

of toothpaste and childhood baths,

and the curtains in the middle room

looked like ghosts at night.

Mornings smelled like jelly toast,

and cigar smoke that soaked into the sofas

and the tables and the lampshades.

Grandpa’s shirts still smell of smoke,

and doll clothes and motor oil


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