They had 47 years together
before Grandpa got swept away
on a tide of cold sweats and
shaking limbs.

They planted a sack of rattling bones in the ground.
The test tubes and charts left behind
had nothing to do with what we remembered
Grandpa to be.

We cleared all that away,
all the empty pill bottles
the special oxygen mask next to their bed –
we kept the Grandpa from before.

Grandma smiled sadly,
standing in his cardigan at the cemetery –
her feet pointed toward Grandpa’s grave
as she stared into the hills.

“He’s at peace now,” she said.
But all I could think of was
that bag of bones under six feet of clay,
the earth pushing down on him.
But not the “him” that I remember.

She wore the cardigan for ten days,
and when she wore her own clothes again,
they were just

She seems less now,
shrinking into whatever black she wears today
and I wonder if she still sets his place,
or turns down his side of the bed.

I wonder how it is that they’ll
find one another in the dark,
together again in the family grave,
when the dirt is just so heavy.

This piece appeared in Ex Calamus’ sixth edition, themed “Reunion”. You can download it here.