My father sighed at every red light

My grandfather never rested

until the moment they laid him to rest, and even then he wanted a

closed casket.

Makeup covered the bruising around his eye sockets,

and his hands were folded in pious prayer, a position quite

unfamiliar to him.

My mother had bought him a brand-new,

pewter-grey suit

and patent leather shoes that only God and the devil ever saw.


I’ve never heard my father speak more

than three sentences at a time,

but on that day, he said more about the


than he ever had about the present. And I certainly never knew

that he spoke with a Portuguese accent when he cried.


I became ethereal on that sunny afternoon.

just a wisp of air lifting up up up –

out of my body, floating to the ceiling – silent.

then I watched that girl cry and cry and cry;

watched her walk to the pulpit and tell the masses about the great man her grandfather was;

watched her choke on her words and fail to do justice to the way he walked and talked and loved;

watched her say good-bye.


My grandmother wailed

as my grandfather was lowered into the tomb

and no one could find any words

to combat, comfort, or console against the dreadful finality

of a coffin hitting cold, hard, dirt.


After the funeral, we sat in my grandparents’ home

(leaving his space open)

and looked at old photographs, reminiscing on

that time when

and how he used to – remember?

and tried not to think about

how he didn’t –

not anymore.


I never thought that the day would come so soon.

It was one of many firsts, and many lasts;

But for the gravediggers,

it was just another Wednesday.




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