I had thought we’d said everything we needed to say
when you were in the hospital
and the nurses were running around
trying to figure
out how to make you more comfortable.
Would you like some more water?
But I continued to have entire conversations
with you in my head. Now, no one speaks.
You died of a virus no one knew the name of.
And when scientists found a name,
our parents declared that people like you
deserved to die.
No one would touch you.
No one from family went to your funeral.
Your body was burned.
Trees lose leaves in winter. Every year birds return
to lusher resorts. No one thing ever leaves,
I tell myself, falls away completely.
When does it become unreasonable to cry?
I lay lilacs next to your headstone,
all of our family now gone, trace the letters
in your name, round out vowels
with my fingertips, shallowed out
beyond recognition to anyone but me.
From Memorial with Liminal Space (Driftwood Press, 2023) by Mitchell Untch. Copyright © 2023 by Mitchell Untch. Used with the permission of the publisher.