Stones

I drove your car to your funeral,
my foot nervously tapping the gas,
trying to shift gears,
one hand on the wheel, where
your hand had worn away the pebbled leather.
There’s a handful of spare change on the floor and
your crumpled cigarette pack in the glove box, waiting.
As if no one had told your things that you were dead
and my foot edged towards the brake.

I didn’t believe you were dead until I saw you lying there, cold in the casket.
Your son played with your hair and it came
away in his small hand.
You were always moving,
always humming and crashing.
But now your stillness unnerves me.

You died, left us standing here, hands open and confused,
on the first day of summer.
A day not meant for dying by any standard definition.
But a day meant for laughter and picnics
for feeling the sun on your face after so long
in the darkness,
for running down Crescent Beach with your children.

I slip a stone, separated from its earth,
jagged in my tight palm, into my pocket.
No one taught you how to die,
but you managed it just fine, effortless, almost,
just like no one taught you how to be born, or breathe, or cry
out, or sing. We’re all singing now.
Funny how only the dead can make us
sing these days.

I took a cab to the train in the heat
your car left in your driveway.
The cab driver talking out the window
that was down and rushing
about the summer that wasn’t
letting go anytime soon
(more to himself than me).
but he mentioned that last winter here,
your last winter here,
it was so cold, the ocean steamed
where it touched the sky.

The rock in my hand, untouched,
forgotten for centuries
could shine like the brightest moon.
we place stones here to bury you
as we turn to leave,
to keep you beneath our feet,
to keep you permanent,
to give you back to the earth,
to know where we’ve been,
to keep where we set you down
set in stone,
as if I could forget where I left you.