Ode To The Afternoon


my friend tells me she’s been running
in the cemetery in the afternoon
she calls it just-a-garden-really
first i am afraid & then i am afraid
everything is cemetery & garden
my late uncle’s flower shop
my daughter learning to fold a paper into a boat
sea salt marriage dawn old french music
this vertical line digging deeper
into my forehead every morning
that bicycle in the city tied to a street post
with flowers & a note to the girl who rode it

when i was a little girl i wanted to bury the afternoon
when longing was long & my parents slept & slept
i stood in the corridor & repeated i i i i i until i
flickered in & out of myself some days i even
threatened to fling my body from the balcony until
my brother with such calm looked at me
dangling from the railing my head thrown back
& explained you don’t own your soul
it belongs to God only He can decide

i stood in the corridor i stood on the balcony
i stood in the desolate afternoon & repeated
because what is repetition
if not a question the way mom every day
with her hair dryer with her grocery list
with her buying this shawl & that
is asking what have i done what have i done

the book says we will see clearly
when the drunkenness of death falls upon us
my uncle saw a man & a woman
standing by his hospital window
& asked his wife who they were

my father with his prayer beads
with his cigarette gestured to the driver
taking my uncle to his grave
to circle back & pass
by his flower shop my father
with his few words said
one last time so he
by he my father meant both
his brother & himself

my uncle taught me to sing que sera sera
he said say it what will be will be
i still dread the afternoon & still ask
will i be pretty will i be missed
& i still haven’t been
to his grave but have driven
past his flower shop again & again & again
the way on the night he died i drove beneath bridges
& saw him on each one & waved

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