Sunday, October 23, 2011

Grieving My Father

This poem first appeared in Margie: The American Journal of Poetry.

Our father died again tonight
on the island of Lesbos. A crescent
moon hung over the castle,
and the stench of a thousand
slaughtered pigs, an offering
to Demeter, wafted down
celebratory roads. On our street,
a traditional lead tablet, nailed
to the wall with forged lead
nails, curses all lawyers.

Five years ago, we rented a grave
for our father, a ruddy-faced peasant,
too red said some, blood
red. Tonight we dug for his bones,
to place him in the box
my brother built. In the shadows
cast by torches, his flesh
was still fresh, a vampire, they said,
and the whispers spread like a winter
storm. The priest brought a lead
spike and drove it through our
father’s chest. The ribs splintered
and the blood was a dry black stain.

We must pay a tithe of our harvest
for another five years to rent
his grave again. Others
sleep soundly tonight,
the vampire vanquished, but I
cry for the twice dead.

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