Every year a pilgrimage
to the cemetery, juggling
a sad Safeway balloon,
pale pink carnations,
a worn trickle of tears.

While others breakfast
and brunch, I pat your
headstone, wipe away
leaves, whisper into
the wind how it never
got back to normal. I
tell you how I still listen
to the goodness in your
voice on the ancient
answering machine.

How I drive by a house
where you no longer live,
squint to try to see your
cherished garden, now
just dust and weeds.
How in the early days
I’d silently scream when
someone mentioned
that better place, and
I’d think wait, shouldn’t
that be here with me?

I never wanted to pack
you away, box you up,
toss you out. I never
wanted to lose pieces
of you to Salvation Army,
Goodwill, the neighbor
across the street. I never
wanted to close my eyes
and think you are slowly
being erased. I never
wanted to notch another
Mother’s Day knowing
you were looking down
while I still can’t look up.