My father-in-law died on a sunny April day very much like today, eight years ago. So for Friday poetry blogging, I am posting this poem for him.
I wanted to erase the smell
of rubber sheets, the hiss of leaking
oxygen. The gasps of a man
who could no longer breathe.
So on the morning of his father’s funeral,
I seduced my husband.
His father was a broken man. I remember the way
his eyes looked at me as if he saw inside of me.
Strange how invisible people
are able to see each other.
My mother-in-law made him
watch weepy television shows.
At every saccharine line
he would wink at me.
"These shows," he said once, "are a good argument
for sex and violence on television."
My mother-in-law didn’t hear him.
She was never listening.
When my sister-in-law watched her soap opera,
he and I were banished to the kitchen.
I sometimes forget he’s not there still
hunched on a kitchen chair, cigarette in hand.
My husband kept talking about the church service,
the limo, the coffin, the flowers.
But the waves of grief had washed
my body clean. My wet hair hung
in musky strands. I wanted to celebrate
his father’s love for flowers.
The red matador tulips he had
given me, pushing their way through earth.
The blue forget-me-nots his garden had seeded.
The silky smell of rose petals.
I knew his widow was saying the rosary,
his daughter searching for the blackest dress.
My husband asked: do you think we should
be doing this? I mean, on our way to a funeral?
I rubbed my hair across his chest
touched his thighs lightly.
Yes, I said. Yes.
I know your father would approve.