All that’s left for me to do in my hometown
is pull up weeds on the family plot where the remains
of my father and my mother were buried,
side by side, thirty seven years apart.
Frozen crust had to be removed before
the place could be readied to hold Dad,
burned beyond recognition, the paper said, in a small
plane crash caused by icing on the wing.
Just the first four of us six kids were there, my sisters
– fifteen, twelve, and ten, and me fourteen –
the babies, three and four, weren’t allowed.
We had no grandparents to comfort us, to wrap us
in a knowing way, to stand in for our dead father and
tell us that it would be all right, ice would melt,
sun would shine, we’d be happy.
Her seven sisters stood beside my mother for a week
and then went home and my father’s four brothers did the
best they could, too, but something sank in her
that day and never rose.
Mom never lost the chill she caught the day she stared
down at her husband’s coffin; I don’t know if she wanted
to jump in with it; she threw herself into it, though,
the life that showed up after her’s left, and we all
Were so proud the sunny late spring day when the six
of us carried her back and left her in the warm ground.