Sunday, March 2, 2014

Poem read at cemetery for gravestone dedication

Conversations with My Brother
For Scotty Nielsen
Forever-ness of death still stuns.  But death
Does not let conversations end.  I speak
Aloud sometimes.  I listen, hold my breath. 
The fabric torn, the picture incomplete.

At night I dream my brother back to life.
The smile’s not quite right somehow.  The sleeve
I reach for disappears, just dust and night
And scabs and grit.  I ask him not to leave.

I thought I heard your laugh; it was my son.
Sophia has your smile and Jack your way
With friends.  The conversation’s not yet done.
How can it be with so much left to say?

I want to tell a joke I heard. I want
To fill your lonely heart, un-crease your brow.
The pain you felt, the blows you took still haunt.
I cannot reconcile the grief of now
With what you must have felt that final day.
I can’t un-stitch identity, un-sister
Myself and reconstruct with bits of clay
And random scraps.  Instead I hold this list,
Your names.  The conversation does not end
Dear brother, father, son and friend.