Friday, January 24, 2014


I Call Your Name

I search for you
in garden soil
the color of coffee beans,
where it’s sandy in places,
clay-like in others.
I use my bare hands,
careful not to cut you with a spade or hoe.
I free worms from their squiggly fetal positions.
There are rocks and bigger rocks,
a swath of petrified electrical tape,
the arm of a G.I. Joe,
something that might once have been a wrist watch.

I dig for hours
until my scalp is scalded and my shirt is a damp sheet that reeks.
I hum your favorite Dylan tune as I scrape and carve away clumps of dirt,
my fingernails cracked and bleeding.
I call your name.
I sing it.
I use your name and tell you how wonderful you are and always will be.
I use your name and say it’s not your fault about what happened.
I use your name the way some people use pillows, baths or comfort food,
and I use it selfishly, just as the broken must when medicating in mourning.

By nightfall
I’m sore and too exhausted to move anymore.
Breathing hurts.
A headache burrows through my right ear
while my bones scream at me for my foolishness,
because I knew I wouldn’t find you here,
not here
or even in a casket somewhere.
When they brought you back from the war
you were only medals and army gear,
a bundle of the photographs you’d taken along
 and a few well-read letters.
They said the explosion was massive,
that the fire engulfing you had been a monster to put out.
They said how sorry they were for my loss.

Now I weep for you under a milk-blue moon.
I call your name,
then I don’t.
Instead I shout a father’s cry, “Son!  Son, I miss you so much!”
I yell it over and over,
praying you can hear me and
that heaven is real after all.

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