Three Months Since

My father’s last breath is still the blade 
that pares and cleaves me open. 
From the wound I cradle every beautiful thing:  

my friends’ laughter havocking the moonless night
cricket song spilling from an unfinished building.
In my hands the pastel rind of a grapefruit

plucked from the neighbor’s tree 
sour blush of its fruit plush beneath my nail’s parting. 
How to live knowing all of this will one day join him in the dirt 

and he will never see me beneath palm and palo verde:
my fingers long and lithe as his 
ripping pith from fruit. 

I slurp the good and bitter juice, 
drinking enough for both of us. 
Each night I’ll tell him what he’s missed: 

The tree’s golden litter of leaves 
the mourning doves’ daily song 
rung from branches thrust against the winter sky

too blue and too bright to bear.


Copyright © 2023 by Jade Cho. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 10, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

This piece is part elegy for my father and part ode to the walks with friends that buoyed me along in the first months of grief. The poem’s attention to rhythm and sound is influenced by June Jordan’s ‘Guidelines for Critiquing a Poem,’ which I revisited while TA-ing for Solmaz Sharif in ‘Poetry for the People’ at Arizona State University, and by Safiya Sinclair’s guidance during her graduate workshop. I’m grateful to these teachers and spaces, and to my mother for encouraging me to keep writing through it all.”
Jade Cho