Season of Grief

My grandmother sat at the head of her oak table 
one Labor Day afternoon & in a lull turned to me & said 
all the people I knew are dead. When she fixed those two words, I knew, 

I felt my heart in the world beat its blood through thin chambers. The constant 
rush still interrupts the body I didn’t make, but keep breathing somehow
& functioning until I can’t, & the night before she died, I felt the easing of her spirit, 

& the same when my aunt died the year before. I still say to my still-grieving 
cousin I’m here—an echo of her mother’s absence, & we are left 
together on this side of unknowing, stack like throwing bricks 

all the finite seasons we have 
& will spend without them. Up against my own lifetime
I wish for fog, early morning. Instead, unpredictable years keep emptying. 

Copyright © 2023 by Khadijah Queen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 2, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.