Mournful Meditation

Jacob Butlett

Back from college, alone, I daydream of your fading smile. Round patches
of grass shine like haloes of sun around your marble stone. A wreath of tulips
& tiger lily blossoms swings on the black shepherd’s hook beside your blue
ceramic pot of violet crocuses. Grandma, do you know I’m here, kneeling
above you, glancing at rows of elms leading to a clearing awaiting future corpses?
In elementary school, I never imagined the petals of your life might droop,
could clump onto a patch of grass like this. Grandma, can you hear me whenever
I murmur your name & start a poem, hoping your name alone can comfort me
as I pluck another vein to write? I write to remember, to commemorate,
to hope, to mourn. Your feathery voice is almost lost on me. I was just eight
& you were just sixty-seven when you died. I blame myself for not cherishing
you enough, for not holding your voice in my mind like daffodils
in a sparkling vase. You wouldn’t want me to forget you, let alone be ashamed
for not protecting your memory. Now twilight bleeds through your wreath
in a red haze. My eyes sting with tears. Would you have spent your days at home
cooking angel hair pasta with oregano & thyme? Would you have gone
to school to become a teacher, which you wanted to be before you became
a stay-at-home wife? At least, would you be by my side, strolling down
the Dubuque Riverwalk in summer? The breeze would flit through your black
curly hair & past the smile lines around your eyes as plastic pots
of geraniums sway from lampposts above the rocky shore. Twilight would glide
down the river like time itself, wings of starlight above the water.