Epitaph for My Father

This cornhusk town

is embarrassing enough, I know,

without the promise—

more now the deadset,

ironclad certainty—

that a hayseed coroner

will smudge his name across

the last few lines

of your carefully perfected

pedigree and give it standing

like a Paris moon or a pastrami

dripped across rock-crusted ryes

a block from the stadium, or

opening nights retold for years

when greyed men laugh

into afternoon cocktails

on a Berkshire lawn.

As if dying alone weren’t

all the embarrassment a man

can stand, let alone a boy

urged into a tiled, steeled room

to watch or say goodbye

with powdery words and

newly-shy looks and

new understandings

that we don’t

and haven’t the time.


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