In Pursuit (of grief)
[after reading Joe Stroud’s poem “Provenance”]
“My father had little use for poems, less use
for the future. If he had anything
to show me by his life, it was to live
My father died alone, shot so full of morphine he couldn’t care his wife had left his options to the docs & I, home on holiday, went to work dismantling a life file case by dresser drawer until all that remained was the gavel from his lodge & his ashes which I declined to scatter…
& when the crematorium called & inquired, ‘What’s to be done with the box?’ I asked it be dropped at sea, you know, tossed from a plane or however it’s done & when they seemed perturbed I’d not take charge I lied a bit & said, “It’s what he’d expect.”
Today, when I pass a neatly ordered field of corn or beans or tomatoes, there’s usually a man behind a plow or hoe or walking down the rows & stooping to pick something, put it to his mouth & taste its flesh to know how it’s going & how it’s going to be in the end when he’ll finish what he started.