Photo by W.A. LeVine
No, he did not look natural in his coffin.
He is not in a better place.
Don’t compare your pain to mine. Your dog
getting hit by a truck is not the same.
You really don’t know how I feel.
Don’t say you’re devastated.
Does it always have to be about you?
Don’t ask me about Fentanyl.
Don’t tell me not to dwell.
Don’t minimize my loss.
My boy is not better off dead.
For once, let’s say it like it is:
He did not pass away.
There is no plan.
Don’t say he is at peace.
Silence is good. A hug.
Tell me you have no words.
Or tell me stories of that summer
he rode the bulls in Ogden,
all that life tightly in his grip.
Honorable Mention, Beyond Baroque Poetry Contest, 2019, Judged by Diane Seuss
When my husband’s two grown daughters are in town, the three of them go to the movies, or play pool. Share dinner every night. Stay out late. I haven’t seen my stepdaughters since my son’s funeral in 2007. When people ask, I say nice things about the girls, as if we had a relationship. When people ask if I have children I change the subject. Or I lie, and say no. Or sometimes I put them on the spot and tell them yes, but he died. They look aghast and want to know what happened.Then I have to tell them about the cancer. Sometimes, when the older daughter, his favorite, is in town, and she and my husband are out together night after night, I wonder what it would be like if that was me, and my boy, if life was fair, and, rather than my husband having two children and I, none, we each had one living child. His choice which one to keep. Lately when people ask, I want to lie and say yes, my son is a basketball coach; he married a beautiful Iranian model with kind eyes, and they live in London with their twin girls who visit every summer; the same twins his girlfriend aborted with my blessing when my son was eighteen, deemed too young for fatherhood, and everyone said there would be all the time in the world.
First published in ASKEW, 2016, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize, 2017. Winner, Pangolin Review Poetry Contest, and nominated again for the Pushcart Prize in 2018 by Pangolin Review.