Saturday, November 24, 2018

At the Korean War Veterans Cemetery

That morning I stopped and stood 
on the bridge that spanned the freeway
and watched a flock of pigeons reel and swerve,
pulsing like a heart before sweeping the sky one last time
and shattering against the ledges of the building
I'd just stepped out of.

I'd talked to my mother the day before.
She said my grandmother went missing
They thought she’d wandered off
They didn’t realize she had never left her room,
was in bed the entire time
having shrunken away to almost nothing
her breath so gentle it didn't lift the comforter

Your cat had also diminished over the past few weeks.
Even without claws, she used to occasionally bring
a sparrow into the house. Lay it at your feet.
Now, she could barely clean her fur. Now
she could barely eat.

That afternoon
They shot rifles into the air with little pops
and a trumpeter played taps
while our friend's family wept
and two stoic men in uniform
folded the flag into as small a triangle
as they could manage

And the flock reformed
To ricochet back and forth over the highway
Expanding and contracting
I felt like I could barely breathe,
my breath came out in clouds

Hours later
you drove into the night
The bundle of fur and bones
weighed almost nothing in your lap
The streetlights flashed, the wet tires whispered
as you stroked her ears and murmured
Almost there

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