Finding the Father Grave, June 19
by Jeffrey Dieter


Follow route 50 east from any inner harbors.
Pass the corn and cabbage fields, long tables of fruit.
Churches and shoulder-side shacks, all the goings-on within.
Don't think of the long trip back.

Pretend until pretending becomes praise.
The house: an attic stuffed with steamer-trunks
stuffed with photographs. A boy--yellow slicker
sleeves rolled high against a blue-black storm.

Innocent, you who still suppose such things,
of the forward-backward game of desolation or hope.
Go to the kitchen. He's there, has been for sometime.
Think of the long conversation.

How he sweltered all that summer. Told a few jokes.
Loved a woman. Tired mouths suspended,
whiskey-stopped. Silence. "No," you'd say,
"I won't be staying on tonight."

Reminders in the rear-view mirror. A tuft of hair; the brow.
Take the stone turn off, hardly a car's width wide.
Everything's been arranged. Habitual Flowers,
a new plastic breed. The same exotic orchids.

In among the quenched lanterns, moss-eaten
lambs fed fat on sun and rain, fifty or so speaking-stones.
One speaks a familiar name. Cross-legged, buttocks pressing
queerly into the ground, admit now why you've come.


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