Let’s go visit Millie

my husband says on our way back from Home Depot and for a minute

I picture us pulling up beside his mother’s home on Front Street

in the shadow of luxury yachts. Then I remember he means

 

her grave and the oddness of it settles into me. I never

went to the funeral, having ministered to her in those last

days before she slipped away, her blood refusing to move.

 

I said what I said. Too late for her to hear anything now,

but my husband went with a small group of her last friends,

laughing at her oddly splattered reputation. No service.

 

No solemn rituals. Funny how he went fifteen months

without speaking to her, yet he wants to see if the rosebush

your ex-wife planted still grows above her head.

 

You’re fat. Lose some weight, she scolded.

Paint your house. It’s an eyesore.

You should get a job.

 

A haiku of accusations, insinuations, betrayals.

I listen to the impartial grumble of the truck, one brake

catching slightly, groaning. We turn right beyond

 

the Youngstown Inn into the cemetery, drive

to the end, near the last headstone, and park.

His footsteps bend the August blades

 

and I follow, not knowing exactly where we are going.

He kneels down, fingers the cut stem, the remains

of the plant. They’ve been mowing over it,

 

he says and wonders why. There’s no marker

I answer.  Only a vague rectangle still exists

in the grass. I point out other graves

 

without stones, with wooden crosses,

with whirligigs of ducks, endless American flags.

Next time he comes, he says he will bring

 

a large rock, a stone, dark and heavy,

something he has lying around, something

easy to throw in the bed of the dying truck.

 

 

Published in:

Eclectica (Oct./Nov. 2014)

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