Open to the Elements
For G.B.G. (1906-1982)
The tent stands over freshly mounded earth
the lifts and small collapses of its gabled canvas
breathing with the misty breeze. Little flapping sounds remind
mourners that their lungs still work
inside bodies shaped like grief:
overcoats tenting skin and rigid bone, corners
where hearts, still tethered, dread release.
Beneath the awning, beside Papa, a boy stands
attentive to its breathing, but in a bird-wing way,
sensing a stir of departure and a flyway opening in his chest,
a sky furled with clouds and dimming rain.
Like nothing he can know as loss-of-Mama
except, perhaps, the cold inside his shoes,
toes in the grass at the pit’s brink.
Across the cemetery’s expanse,
grass weaves another canopy.
Nearly invisible weeds nestle--little rooted tents
of heart-shaped leaves. Mallow and purslane: the boy
will learn to find them in his own back yard. Even the golden-headed
dandelion he will not pity, but give its leaf rosette
a yank, pull until it comes up dirt and stem,
taproot bared to the parching sun.